Thursday, January 14, 2010

Magdalena High School Gets High Marks

By John Larson

MAGDALENA -- Magdalena High School is ranked among the best high schools in the United States, according to a study released by U.S. News and World Report.
The magazine’s website states that “in collaboration with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education and data research and analysis business that provides parents with education data - analyzed academic and enrollment data from more than 21,000 public high schools to find the very best across the country. These top schools were placed into gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention categories.”
Magdalena High School was listed in the bronze category.
In the study, it was first determined that each school's students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state. Then, it was determined whether the school's least-advantaged students (Native American, Hispanic, and low income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state.
Superintendent Mike Chambers said a number of factors were responsible for the recognition.
“It’s always nice to have this kind of acknowledgment. It validates what the general view of the school has been,” he said. “We have a staff that works hard. The ACT test scores were good. This year and last year they were above the state average.”
The high school has been on the best schools list three out of the last four years.
Chambers said it takes a continual effort and commitment to provide the best education possible for students.
“The kids are always our first priority, and what’s needed is to give them opportunities to excel. It doesn’t happen by accident, but by design. We focus on the kids,” he said. “We have a meeting once a week with key players on the staff and talk about things that can be done. That’s our bottom line. We ask ‘how is this going to impact kids.’ That’s our major focus.”
Chambers said the Magdalena School District is facing the same problems other schools in the state deal with – funding. “We are the third highest poverty district in the state,” he said.
“But we have a lot of help (from the state and federal government) to offset that.
“When I came here, there was a very minimal cash balance. Now we maintain a good balance.
“We watch our (fiscal) P’s and Q’s,” Chambers said. “We’ve been fortunate.”
Another plus for the high school is that the teaching staff has been consistent.
“We rarely lose teachers. In fact we typically have more wanting to come and teach, than leave,” he said.
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