A-Tech in a class by itself: Magnet school models exciting possibilities for public education in Nevada

May 29, 2017 by

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In U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking of 22,000 public high schools nationwide, Advanced Technologies Academy (A-Tech) came in at No. 287 overall and No. 1 in Nevada. The career and technical magnet school near downtown Las Vegas was recognized for 64.5 percent of its students being “college-ready,” 70 percent being tested in Advanced Placement courses and a general demonstration of 100 percent proficiency in mathematics and English.

That’s not a product of enrolling a certain demographic within the struggling Clark County School District, according to A-Tech principal Jonathan Synold.

“We get kids from just about every middle school in the valley,” he said. Almost 77 percent are minorities, and 43 percent qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program. “We’re very fortunate that our demographics actually look like the district as a whole. It’s our diversity that brings kids together.”

The 2016-17 enrollment of about 1,100 students includes a senior class of 249 that racked up $9.7 million in college scholarships. Of those receiving scholarships, 32 percent will attend UNLV and 15 percent will attend UNR — noteworthy given Nevada’s problem with “brain drain,” when talent leaves seeking more robust opportunities.

County public schools face a host of challenges that contribute to consistently poor national rankings and defy a direct comparison to A-Tech. For example, the latter’s enrollment is limited by its relatively small campus and the county’s budget for magnet programs, which must cover the cost of transporting students from all over the valley to A-Tech. As a result, there are fewer than 30 students in most classes, Synold says. Each year, A-Tech accepts about 350 incoming freshmen and sophomores through a blind-lottery process. The student body during the 2016-17 school year was 1,088, whereas the average local high school serves roughly 3,000 students, most going wherever they’re zoned.

Source: A-Tech in a class by itself: Magnet school models exciting possibilities for public education in Nevada – Las Vegas Sun Newspaper

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