Higher Learning: IDEA San Benito ranks 6th in nation for most challenging high schools

SAN BENITO — The local IDEA Public Schools are making waves and the nation is paying attention.

IDEA San Benito has earned a top prestigious national ranking.

According to information published by The Washington Post, IDEA San Benito has been ranked 6th as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools.

This is the second consecutive year IDEA has been represented in the annual list of rankings.

Last year, according to Principal Joel Garcia, the school ranked 16th.

Five other IDEA campuses from the Rio Grande Valley were ranked high on the nationally-published list.

The ranking not only reflects the hard work of the school, students, administrators and teachers, but it also reflects the rigor and success of IDEA’s college-going culture.

Specifically, The Washington Post analyzed the number of students who participated in advanced placement and/or international baccalaureate tests in relation to the overall size of the high schools’ graduating class.

The Washington Post index considers college test participation a better measure of school success than test scores.

For Garcia, it means students are receiving rigorous instruction and teachers are excelling at training and performing at a high level.

“Now, more than ever, IDEA is committed to ensuring we have the right people, academic programs and systems in place for the 30,000 students we serve across the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Austin,” said Tom Torkelson, CEO of IDEA Public Schools.

“With our continued dedication to rigorous coursework and emphasis on college matriculation, we know that our students will graduate IDEA ready for college and beyond. We couldn’t be more proud to have our schools in the Rio Grande Valley ranked on this list, among the best high schools in the nation.”

Just the mere fact that the kids are performing at a high level is rewarding for Garcia.

“The results really mirror our efforts,” he said.

The results come on the heels of one of IDEA’s most important days, college signing day.

This week, during the public event, 674 seniors revealed their college choices to an arena full of family, friends, teachers and staff.

Just last week, seven IDEA high schools were also listed on U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of best high schools in the nation, four of which received a gold medal ranking for college readiness and high rankings on the list.

“It all starts with instruction,” Garcia said. “Teachers are able to plan and give good and consistent instruction.”

More than 2,900 public high schools across the country were analyzed in order to determine the ranking.

School Profile

• 1,459 students.

• 100 percent college bound.

• Pre-K through 12th grade.

• 42 percent of graduates passed at least one college level test during their high school career.

• 80 percent of the students qualify for lunch subsides.

• Scores 17.264 on the index, meaning the number of AP, IB, AICE tests given each school year divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. 1 means the school had as many test as graduates.

Top 10 in the nation

1. BASIS Phoenix – Phoenix, Arizona.

2. Mickey Leland College Prep – Houston    

3. IDEA Frontier College Prep – Brownsville    

4. IDEA Mission College Prep – Mission        

5. IDEA San Juan College Prep – San Juan    

6. IDEA San Benito College Prep – San Benito    

7. Signature – Evansville, Indiana

8. BASIS Oro Valley – Oro Valley, Arizona  

 9. IDEA Quest College Prep – Edinburg    

10. BASIS Flagstaff – Flagstaff, Arizona