Each spring, Newsweek recognizes the top 6 percent of public schools as measured by the Challenge Index ratio devised by Washington Post Education Columnist Jay Mathews. The ratio is based, in part, on the number of Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in the previous year divided by the number of graduating seniors. This year, Newsweek recognized 1,600 schools from across the country.
The Challenge Index is designed to recognize schools that challenge average students. Top-performing schools, such as The Gatton Academy, were excluded from the regular list of well-performing high schools because of their exceptional quality and remarkably talented student bodies. Specialized schools are, instead, acknowledged by The Public Elites.
Though 16 Kentucky high schools appear on Newsweek’s traditional list of top-performing high schools, Dr. Julia Roberts, executive director of the Gatton Academy, noted the Gatton Academy is the only Kentucky high school to have been recognized as a member of The Public Elites. Roberts also added the Gatton Academy is one of the youngest institutions to appear on the list.
“How outstanding for a program as young as the Gatton Academy to make the Newsweek list of the Public Elites among public high school schools in America for a second year,” Roberts said. “This recognition reflects entirely upon the dedication of the staff at the Gatton Academy and the outstanding students from across the Commonwealth who participate in research and advanced classes as well as international experiences and service learning opportunities. People across the Commonwealth and beyond can share pride in this wonderful recognition for the Gatton Academy.”
The Gatton Academy once again finds itself among the nation’s 20 most distinguished high schools. Schools such as the Bergen County Academies (New Jersey), Illinois Math Science Academy, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and Thomas Jefferson High School (Virginia) make perennial appearances on the list. These schools, along with the Gatton Academy, are members of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).
According to Tim Gott, the Gatton Academy’s director and NCSSSMST board member, the Commonwealth’s future leaders and innovators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have already begun to distinguish themselves among peers across the nation through sharing research at the consortium’s student research symposium and Keystone National Youth Policy Summit.
“The Gatton Academy has been extremely fortunate to be involved with NCSSSMST peer institutions,” Gott said. “This incredible network of over 200 schools and affiliates creates a strong professional community that provides a collective wisdom on STEM education that cannot be duplicated. Serving on the board and co-hosting the most recent professional conference has provided us the opportunity to participate and contribute on a national stage. This experience has been invaluable in guiding our work at Gatton Academy.”
Newsweek’s recognition drew attention to the strategic partnership between the Gatton Academy and WKU, which facilitates all coursework for academy students. As part of the rigorous curriculum, students earn more than 60 hours of college credit during their four semesters in the program while also earning a high school diploma.
“One of the reasons for our early success is the outstanding partnership we have with WKU,” Gott said. “Integrating into the college curriculum available on campus allows our students to have a rigorous and relevant learning environment with professors and instructors who are experts in their disciplines and leaders in a vast array of research fields. WKU, across the board, has made every resource available so Gatton Academy students can truly expand and enrich their educational experience while making significant contributions to academic and student life on campus.”
Though particular attention is given to the academy, Corey Alderdice, assistant director for admissions and public relations, said the Gatton Academy is an educational partnership encompassing districts across the state.
“We are humbled to find ourselves among the nation’s most prestigious high schools once more,” Alderdice said. “However, it’s not an accomplishment we celebrate alone. Such recognition is born out of previous and present commitment and dedication of parents, educators and administrators in our students’ local districts.”
Since the program’s inception in 2007, students have been admitted from 95 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. In all, students from over 100 public high schools across the state have enrolled in the program.
“We believe this program and accomplishment is something all Kentucky educators have ownership in and can celebrate,” Alderdice said.
Contact: Corey Alderdice, (270) 745-6565.