By: Bob Skipper - iReporter Email
By: Bob Skipper - iReporter Email

The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky at WKU has been named to The Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students.

Though 16 Kentucky high schools appear on educational columnist Jay Matthews’ traditional list of top-performing high schools, Julia Roberts, executive director of the Gatton Academy, noted the Gatton Academy is the only Kentucky high school to have been recognized as a member of The Public Elites. Dr. Roberts also added the Gatton Academy is one of the youngest institutions to appear on the list.

“How outstanding for a program as young as the Gatton Academy to make the The Washington Post list of the Public Elites among public high school schools in America for a third year,” Dr. Roberts said. “The Gatton Academy’s mission is to provide exceptional educational opportunities to young people from across the Commonwealth who are talented in science and mathematics. People across the Commonwealth and beyond can share pride in this wonderful recognition for the Gatton Academy.”

The Gatton Academy once again finds itself among the nation’s 24 most distinguished high schools. Schools such as the Bergen County Academies (New Jersey), Illinois Math Science Academy, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and Thomas Jefferson High School (Virginia) make perennial appearances on the list. These schools, along with the Gatton Academy, are members of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).

According to Tim Gott, the Gatton Academy’s director and NCSSSMST board member, the Commonwealth’s future leaders and innovators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have already begun to distinguish themselves among peers across the nation through sharing research at the consortium’s student research symposium and Keystone National Youth Policy Summit.

“The Gatton Academy has been extremely fortunate to be involved with NCSSSMST peer institutions,” Gott said. “To have the Gatton Academy on the same list as these other outstanding schools is an incredible honor. The depth and strength of schools such as IMSA and Thomas Jefferson is well established. Kentucky can be very proud that it has a school that stands among these fine institutions.”

Since 1998, Mathews has ranked Washington-area public high schools using the Challenge Index, his measure of how effectively a school prepares its students for college. The Post later expanded its research to high schools across the United States. The ratio is based, in part, on the number of Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in the previous year divided by the number of graduating seniors. This year, The Post recognized 1,900 schools from across the country.

The Challenge Index is designed to recognize schools that challenge average students. Top-performing schools, such as The Gatton Academy, were excluded from the regular list of well-performing high schools because of their exceptional quality and remarkably talented student bodies. Specialized schools are, instead, acknowledged by The Public Elites.

The Post’s recognition drew attention to the strategic partnership between the Gatton Academy and WKU, which facilitates all coursework for academy students. As part of the rigorous curriculum, students earn more than 60 hours of college credit during their four semesters in the program while also earning a high school diploma.

Corey Alderdice, assistant director for admissions and public relations, praised WKU’s longstanding commitment to the program.

“Time and time again, WKU has proven itself as a university committed to challenging young people who are gifted and talented,” Alderdice said. “From faculty in the classroom and research labs to administrators campus wide, we are proud to have the support of the WKU community in our role of engaging some of the commonwealth’s most innovative thinkers and future leaders.”

Though particular attention is given to the Gatton Academy, Gott was also quick to praise partner high schools across Kentucky that prepare students during elementary, middle, and early high school for study at the Gatton Academy during their junior and senior year of high school.

“The great thing about this honor is that it reflects the partnership that the Gatton Academy has with all of the high schools across the state,” Gott said. “This recognition elevates the amazing students that come from across the whole Commonwealth. Every school represented at the Academy shares in this accolade.”

Since the program’s inception in 2007, students have been admitted from 103 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. In all, students from more than 100 public high schools across the state have enrolled in the program.

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