Wichita Northeast Magnet, Maize high schools named top-10 public schools in Kansas by magazine

04/27/2013 8:56 AM

04/27/2013 6:44 PM

Northeast Magnet High School and Maize High made the list of top-10 public high schools in Kansas in the 2013 rankings of the nation’s best high schools by U.S. News and World Report.

Northeast Magnet, part of the Wichita school district, ranked fifth, and Maize High was ninth. Both were designated as silver-medal schools. Other medals were gold and bronze.

U.S. News and World Report and the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., evaluated schools on their students’ performances on state-mandated assessments; how effectively the schools educated black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students; and how well they prepared students for college-level work based on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.

The Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences in Kansas City ranked No. 1 in the state.

The two local schools are planning celebrations at the end of the school year to mark their rankings.

“We’re definitely excited,” said Gil Alvarez, second-year principal at Northeast Magnet. The school has 583 students, of which 63 percent are minorities and 54 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Alvarez credited his staff and teachers for believing that all students can be college- and career-ready.

“It’s the high expectations they have to make sure students are on track to be successful in a four-year university or a career they choose to pursue after high school,” he said.

Teachers are excited about the ranking, he said.

“Anybody in any occupation wants to hear they’re doing a good job, and this is an example of them getting some recognition for the hard work they put in daily,” Alvarez said.

Chris Botts, in his first year as principal at Maize High, said he was surprised when he heard the news.

“We didn’t know that it even existed,” Botts said of the U.S. News rankings. “Just to be part of something from such a reputable publication means the world.”

Maize High has 1,442 students, with a minority enrollment of 21 percent. It has a 14 percent enrollment of economically disadvantaged students.

“I think it just shows our teachers and our students we’re doing the right things and working hard to make sure our kids are getting the best education they can,” Botts said.

The schools won’t receive a monetary award but will have their rankings, medal designations and data published online at usnews.com.

The other schools in the state’s top 10 were Blue Valley North in Overland Park, Blue Valley in Stilwell, Olathe Northwest, Gardner-Edgerton in Gardner, and Liberal, Fort Scott, and Louisburg high schools.

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