Thursday, May 31, 2007

Choosing Secondary Schools

One of the most common questions I get from readers of this blog is "which school is best for my gifted child?" It's a question that's hard to answer, even if money and location don't matter (and they do tend to matter for most of us). Different children have different learning styles. A Montessori education might delight a free-spirited child, but frustrate one who needs more structure.

That said, I've come across two lists of "good" schools for gifted kids recently that can serve as good starting points. The first is the broad Newsweek list of the 1200 best high schools in the US. (Follow the links from this page for the list and related articles). Dallas's School for the Talented and Gifted came out in the top spot, with Dallas's School of Science and Engineering coming in at number two. So if location is truly negotiable, Dallas might be worth checking out. It's also worth noting that Newsweek purposefully excluded selective schools like the Illinois Math and Science Academy and Bronx Science from consideration for reasons that aren't entirely clear; the magazine published a list of these excluded schools (link from the same main page). These are all good options.

The second list comes from the Malone Family Foundation, a non-profit that makes grants to support gifted education. The Foundation adds three independent secondary schools to its list of "good schools" each year, and bequeaths a large enough chunk of change to these schools to endow scholarships for gifted kids. Since the schools have to undergo a certain vetting to get on the list, most of these are pretty good options for secondary school kids as well.

If anyone reading this is going through the school selection process right now, I'd love to hear how you're making your decision.


Hillel said...

My kid goes to one of the top schools on Jay Mathews's list. It's a good school, but the point of the list is to recognize those schools which encourage AVERAGE or just-above-average kids to take ib/ap courses. So it is a list of schools that "challenge" ordinary students. A value, but not necessarily the one readers of this blog are looking for.

Anonymous said...

The inclusion of test-entry schools while excluding lottery-entry schools like Pacific Collegiate is really mysterious---it does not match their stated rationalization at all.

The use of "number of AP exams taken" rather than "number of AP exams passed" has been a major force in the watering down of AP course offerings around the country. Quite frankly, the Newsweek list is pure bullshit.

Slithy Toves said...
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SlithyToves said...

They do include lottery-entry schools (International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (#7) is lottery-entry).

However, I agree that the list appears to be strangely random. Even their exclusion list is a bit odd, in that Laura's alma Mater (The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics & Humanities) is included in the list (#691), while most of its sister schools (public, residential high schools) are on the exclusion list..