Los Alamos High School Receives 2014 Gold Medal Ranking and Makes Prestigious STEM List

LAPS News:

Out of 19,411 public high schools, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Los Alamos High School 500th of the “Best High Schools in America.”

High schools in the top 500 in the nation received Gold Medal ranking for the 2014 school year. Achieving Gold Medal ranking also qualified Los Alamos High School for status as a 2014 STEM “Best High Schools.”

To determine the top STEM (science, technology, engineering and math schools), U.S. News and World Report looked at the top 500 public schools in the nation and evaluated their students’ participation and success in Advanced Placement science and math tests. Los Alamos High School ranked 189th out of 250 high schools.

STEM rankings methodology is based on the key principle that students at “Best High Schools” for STEM must participate in and pass a robust curriculum of college math and science courses. Data for this ranking was taken from the 2012 graduates.

School Board President Judy Bjarke McKenzie congratulated students and staff for these accomplishments. “This ranking serves as proof that all schools in the district are headed in the right direction,” she said.

A number of LAHS teachers commented on the award:

  • “I really like how we are increasing student access to AP courses. These rigorous college and career courses really do prepare students for their future success.” —Stephanie Mitchell, LAHS Science Department chair and teacher
  • “Our kids and teachers are awesome. Everyone works hard. The rankings acknowledge the excellent work being done in our school system.” —Sue Wilson, LAHS math teacher
  • “This ranking recognizes the hard work of students and teachers. It also celebrates the value we place on education here at Los Alamos,” —Dr. Brian Easton, LAHS AP economics teacher
  • “As a math teacher, I love the challenge of teaching AP courses. It is a real thrill when concepts come together for students.” —Judy Nekimken, LAHS AP statistics teacher
  • “This Gold Medal is a nice way of highlighting our achievement.” —Ildiko Nadaskay-Goeller, LAHS language arts teacher
  • “Having taught AP psych, it is fantastic for our school to be recognized. The rankings reflect our school’s effort to grow interest in college and career-ready courses and recognizes the willingness of students to enroll in rigorous course work.” —Lynn Ovaska, LAHS AP psychology teacher

“We are really proud. It is nice to be recognized,” LAHS Principal Sandy Warnock said. “We will continue to do our very best to provide students with high quality education and the college and career skills that prepare our graduates for the 21st Century workforce.”

“The trajectory toward Gold Medal status has been building over the last five years,” Superintendent Gene Schmidt said. “For example, three years ago LAHS was ranked in the mid 600s and has steadily improved from Silver Medal to Gold Medal status. Recognition as a STEM “Best High Schools” also reflects the importance that our community places on science, technology, engineering and math. The rankings are truly a reflection of high quality instruction provided throughout the district and the commitment to excellence by our students.”

In order to be named to the 2014 “Best High Schools in America” list, schools are assessed in a three-step process:

  • The first step determined whether each school’s students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state.
  • For those schools that made it past this first step, the second step determined whether the school’s least –advantaged students were performing better than average for similar students in the state.
  • Schools that made it through the first two steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step – college-readiness performance – using Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data as the benchmarks for success, depending on which program was largest at the school.

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