NEWS ARTICLES IN 2011
6/22/11 - 'Newsweek' Magazine ranks John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School as 75th Best High School in the U.S.
The Augusta Chronicle
Tracey McManus, Staff Writer
Newsweek magazine ranked John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School as the 75th-best high school in the country this year on its annual list of top schools.
It was the only school in the Augusta area to make the list of 500.
"There's been many, many cuts in education, but it does show that people who have the right attitude and the willingness to work really hard and inspire their students can still come out on top," Davidson Principal Vicky Addison said.
Newsweek has named top high schools for more than a decade to measure which schools are most successful in challenging and preparing students for the future.
To start the process, Newsweek contacted administrators and counselors at more than 10,000 public high schools across the country, according to its Web site.
Schools wishing to participate had to submit surveys with data from the 2009-10 academic year.
Addison said that although Davidson had never made the top 100 on Newsweek 's list, it has placed in U.S. News and World Report 's list of best high schools for three years.
What might have improved Davidson's spot on the list was a change in Newsweek 's formula for judging schools. Though the magazine used to rank schools solely based on Advanced Placement tests per graduate, the publication came up with a more intricate method this year.
Judges this year looked at things such as graduation and college matriculation rates -- both of which Davidson met with at 100 percent.
Davidson boosted its AP enrollment by requiring each junior and senior to take AP English.
Newsweek called on three experts to develop its new methodology in judging schools: Wendy Kopp, of Teach for America; Tom Vander Ark, of Open Education Solutions; and Linda Darling-Hammond, the founder of School Redesign Network.
They came up with a system that looks at six components at a school: graduation rate; college matriculation rate; AP tests taken per graduate; average SAT or ACT scores; average scores on AP, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education scores; and AP courses offered.
At Davidson, however, the biggest advantage is its philosophy, the principal said.
"There is such an atmosphere and a spirit of achievement and doing your best at Davidson that kids get caught up in it," Addison said. "We help them do their best. We don't just admit them and then say, 'OK, you made it to Davidson. Now it's either sink or swim.'
"Basically it's a positive atmosphere. The kids who come here really want to be there. That makes a difference, too."