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Top 10 LA high schools in national poll include 4 charters, 3 magnets; LACES scores best in LAUSD

Mike Szymanski | April 20, 2016

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Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies LACES

Top-ranked Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

In the extensive U.S. News & World Report ranking of all the public high schools in the country, LA’s top 10 include four independent charters, three magnets and three traditional schools.

The Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies was the top-ranked LA school and the only LA Unified school in California’s top 20. It was 18th in the state and 138th nationally. The school was just honored last month for exceptional merit and innovation by the Magnet Schools of America.

The magazine evaluated nearly 20,000 public high schools throughout the country and ranked them on several factors, including state test scores, the number of students taking Advanced Placement and college-level courses and overall college readiness.

The rankings showed that 47 LA Unified schools, or 19 percent of all local high schools, rank above the California average.

“These results affirm our commitment to prepare our students for college and careers,” said Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson. “LA Unified is proud of our students, teachers and leaders for their scholarly accomplishments, both locally and nationally. This recognition represents the best of the best.”

LACES Principal Harold Boger pointed out that 90 percent of students at LACES take Advanced Placement classes, and minority enrollment is 72 percent.

“Obviously we are thrilled to get recognized for creating a culture where students are not afraid to challenge themselves by taking AP courses,” he said. “We have made a special effort to eliminate middle school courses that have the effect of tracking students at an early stage of either being AP or non-AP students. In fact all of our students know that they will take AP World History in the 10th grade and that all of their prior courses will have been sufficient preparation to succeed in this course.”

But they may be a victim of their success. Boger added, “On the other hand we are a little concerned that we have done such a great job in developing this AP culture among students that maybe it is time to encourage students to consider taking less AP courses. Presently about 40 percent of our juniors and seniors take four or more AP courses. Even though students continue to find ways to ultimately be successful in these courses, we have noticed that the stress level of some students has increased. This has led us to pay more attention to students’ emotional development as we strive to maintain high academic standards.”

The second-highest ranked LA Unified school is Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy at 196 nationally, and third is the charter school Magnolia Science Academy 2 at 223. Two charter schools, Wallis Annenberg High and Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy, rank 246 and 247 nationally, and fourth and fifth in the LA Unified rankings.

Listed at sixth in the district is the magnet school Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High, at 252 nationally, seventh is Elizabeth Learning Center at 277, and eighth is Downtown Business High at 360.

Rounding out the top 10 locally are the charter school Alliance Gertz-Ressler Richard Merkin 6-12 Complex at 383 and, at 406, the traditional school Foshay Learning Center.

Five Alliance College-Ready Public Schools are in the top 20 California schools in the rankings.

Dan Katzir, Alliance’s CEO, said in a statement, “A record-breaking 14 Alliance high schools were recognized. Six were ranked among the top 10 percent of high schools in Los Angeles County. We are proud to announce that, once again, Alliance schools rank among the best in the nation.”

Green Dot has one school in the top 200 high schools nationally, Animo Leadership Charter High which came in at 168, and six schools in the top 200 charter schools nationally.

KIPP had two schools in California’s top 20, both in Northern California.

Magnolia Public Schools had two schools in California’s top 100 and also had the top charter in LA Unified, Magnolia Science Academy 2 in Van Nuys. It was the 66th highest-ranked charter high school in the nation.

In California, Magnolia Science Academy 2 was ranked 32, and Magnolia Science Academy Reseda was ranked 96.

“We’re proud to once again have our schools recognized as among the best in the state and nation,” said Magnolia CEO Caprice Young. “When our charter schools repeatedly rank high on this list, it’s further validation of Magnolia’s successful track record of ensuring that all students—no matter their socioeconomic, ethnic or cultural background—graduate prepared for college because they’re already succeeding in college-level work in high school.”

For more: Read LA School Report’s in-depth look at one of the top schools, Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet. 

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