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Academic Magnet High School Ranked 7th in U.S.
May 20, 2008Charleston Post and Courier
By Diette Courrégé
The magnet school also has been ranked 27th in U.S. News & World Report's first list of America's Best High Schools.
Newsweek's ranking system is based on the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge tests given at a school divided by the number of seniors graduating in May.
No other Lowcountry school was included in Newsweek's ranking of more than 1,300 schools nationwide, and the next closest South Carolina school on the list was Eastside High School in Greenville at No. 342.
Academic Magnet steadily has improved its score on Newsweek's challenge ranking system, going from 5.8 to 7.2 last year to 7.3 this year.
Many said the recognition is validation of the hard work by Academic Magnet students and teachers.
The school begins preparing students for AP courses during their freshman year, interim Principal Carol Tempel said.
Students are required to take at least four AP courses before they graduate, but many students take more AP courses than the school requires. Students are willing to push themselves and work at higher levels, she said.
"I think this is good for teachers and students to know that the work they are putting in is recognizable," she said. "I think we're doing a lot with the students that we have."
AP biology teacher Laura Eicher said she continually has to study to keep up with the constant questions students ask, and they relish any challenge she issues.
"I do feel like it's the pinnacle of places you can teach," she said. "They're that good."
Sophomore Killian Castner said what separates Academic Magnet from other schools is the culture of the school. Students are academically oriented and focused on doing well, he said.
Still, Academic Magnet doesn't appear to be the type of school the Newsweek's ranking system is trying to recognize.
The system is designed "to recognize schools that challenge average students and not magnet or charter schools that draw only the best students in their areas," according to the magazine's Web site.
The system "is designed to honor schools that have done the best job in persuading average students to take college level courses and tests," according to the site.
Newsweek's list did not include magnet or charter high schools with an average SAT score above 1,300 on the reading and math sections or an average ACT score above 29.
At least 17 top schools were not included on the top schools list, including the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville, but Academic Magnet's scores were not high enough to exclude it from the list.