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April 23, 2019

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Advanced Tech, West Tech rise to top of annual review of schools

Atech Jeff Hinton

Mikayla Whitmore

A look inside the Advanced Technologies Academy, a magnet public high school in Las Vegas, on May 22, 2017.

An annual review of public high schools across the country listed Advanced Technologies Academy and West Career and Technical Academy as the top high schools in Nevada.

The U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best High Schools gave rankings of “gold” to the two Las Vegas Valley high schools along with Incline High School in Northern Nevada, which placed third. Among 61 Clark County School District campuses reviewed in the annual report, 12 placed in the state’s top 20.

Ranked 137th in the United States, Advanced Tech was the only Nevada school to rank in the top 150 schools across the country. In addition to again earning the top spot in Nevada, Advanced Tech moved up 150 spots from its national ranking of 287th in last year’s rankings. West Tech ranked 341st nationwide.

“We have an amazing selection of teachers who are very dedicated to their craft and inspiring students,” said third-year Advanced Tech Principal Jonathan Synold. “We believe when students feel connected to their schools, they achieve at a higher rate.”

The report, which reviewed more than 20,500 schools across the country based on statistics for the 2015-2016 school year, cited Advanced Tech’s 100 percent graduation rate and over 80 percent of graduating seniors it called “college ready.” Ninety-three percent of Advanced Tech students who took Advanced Placement tests passed them, the report said. Synold said an analysis by the school found Advanced Tech students score 30 percent higher than the global average for Advanced Placement exams.

West Tech, which graduated 99 percent of its students in 2016, had 72 percent of its students pass Advanced Placement tests, the report said.

To earn gold status in the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings, a school must pass a four-step ratings process that evaluates state, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test scores, graduation rates and performance of minority and low-income students. The top 500 performing schools in that category earn gold ratings, while 2,200 additional schools — including 15 in Nevada — earned silver for meeting the criteria at a lower level. About 3,200 schools — including 12 in Nevada — earned bronze for meeting three of the four criteria.

Silver medal winners in the Clark County School District included Las Vegas Academy, Northwest Career and Technical Academy, Veterans Tribute, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Green Valley, Southeast Career Technical Academy, West Prep Academy, East Career Technical Academy and Arbor View.

CCSD schools Spring Valley, Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Founders Academy of Las Vegas and Leadership Academy of Nevada all earned bronze.

CCSD Associate Superintendent Felicia Gonzales oversees the “tech” schools as well as Las Vegas Academy. She called the schools’ strong statewide rankings a result of “high collaboration” and “doing things the right way.”

“These schools are always pushing expectations for the teachers and the students,” Gonzales said. “They put in great levels of support, but it’s just contagious, all the way down to the kids, and it shows in the results.”