ASMSA ranked top high school in state; Benton, Sheridan others in Tri-Lakes area high on lists

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published May 19, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 17, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
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Good school rankings are a matter of community pride on the state and city levels in Arkansas.

A report from Newsweek and The Daily Beast has ranked the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, in Hot Springs, as No. 13 on its list of America’s Best High Schools for 2013. The school also topped the publications’ list of top Arkansas high schools.

The report from Newsweek and The Daily Beast highlights the top-ranked 2,000 public high schools in the nation. It was the first time for ASMSA to make the list.

The school is a division of the University of Arkansas System and invites juniors and seniors from across the state to end their high school career with more challenging levels of study than are found in most public schools.

Corey Alderdice, director of the school, said the attention on ASMSA as one of the top schools in the nation is important for the school and for Arkansas.

“Programs such as America’s Best High Schools underscore the importance of recognizing schools that inspire students, faculty and staff to embrace challenges and provide vigorous learning experiences,” he said. “A promising future for our state and nation is closely tied to the development of talent in science, mathematics, language arts, social sciences and the arts.”

Alderdice is completing his first year as director of the school. He came to Hot Springs and ASMSA from the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky. The school, which is in Bowling Green, leads the Newsweek and The Daily Beast list as the No. 1-rated high school in the nation.

The schools on the list are selected based on their graduation rates and college acceptance rates and the number of students taking college-level classes offered by the school, as well as average ACT and SAT scores and average grades achieved in those college-level courses.

Newsweek and The Daily Beast also published a list of the 13 top high schools in Arkansas, and Benton High School was 13th on the list, placing it among the best of the state’s high schools.

Superintendent Jeff Collum, who is finishing up his first year as leader of the Benton Public School District, was rewarded with a large ovation when he unveiled Benton High School’s placement on several national ranking lists to members of the Benton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Collum was asked to report to the chamber members about the ranking during the chamber’s monthly lunch on May 2.

Benton High School was also ranked 14th among the state’s high schools by U.S. News & World Report.

“That kind of rating is a tribute to not only the students and teachers but to you in the community,” Collum told chamber members. “I have been watching the classrooms throughout the year, and I am so impressed with what I have seen.”

Chamber Director Gary James said the Benton school system has always been a major part of the city’s appeal to residents.

“The school is big here,” he said. “The teachers and students do a great job, and that’s important for Benton.”

The U.S. News & World Report high school rankings are based on student-teacher ratios, college readiness and average scores on statewide testing in geometry and literacy. The tests are given in the 11th grade by the Arkansas Department of Education.

ASMSA was not included on the U.S. News & World Report ranking because the school is only for 11th- and 12th-graders, according to the criteria listed by the magazine.

Other schools making the U.S. News & World Report list of Arkansas high schools were Sheridan, which placed ninth in state rankings. Bismarck High School in Hot Spring County was ranked 19th, Jessieville High School in Garland County was 21st, and Malvern was No. 31 on the Arkansas list.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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