Valley schools among best in the nation

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 8:09am

It may surprise some people that the Rio Grande Valley has 11 of the very best high schools in the country, according to a study by Newsweek.  

All three of the traditional high schools in McAllen made the list of 2,000 campuses.  

"I would say I'm pretty surprised, but... not surprised too too much because this is a pretty great school," said Caleb Ortega, a junior at McAllen High School. 

The Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes was the highest rank of the Valley schools, at number 94.  

Memorial, McAllen and Rowe High School in McAllen came in near the bottom of the list, which ranks factors such as graduation rate, average test scores, AP and other college prep offerings.  

"They do prepare you for the future, and you have a place to begin, to start from," said Marco Jauregui, a junior at Rowe High who is taking all AP courses. "And you just work off of that, and in college, you'll be a lot better."

McAllen School District officials say they don't worry too much about the criteria for making the list. What they try to focus on is making sure students are as ready for college as they can be.

"If you look at all our classes, there's a college component to each one of them," said McAllen Superintendent James Ponce. "There's college hours in each one of those to not only make sure they're eligible, but that they actually achieve those hours."

And another thing about McAllen schools, the iPads. Every student in McAllen high schools gets his or her own iPad to take home and study with.
"We may not have computers in the classrooms so we get to log on to our iPads and we get to do projects on the iPads, it's better for us to do them here at school," said Kaitlin Hoppenstedt, a junior at McAllen High.  

And of course, McAllen administrators aren't content with the current ranking. They hope to move up in the list next year.

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