Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Newsweek Lauds Harding Charter Prep School

Harding Charter Preparatory High School, one of two public schools founded by State Superintendent candidate Janet Barresi, has been named one of the top high schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine.

Newsweek ranked Harding 68th best in the country. Although this is the second year Harding has appeared on the magazine’s list, the school skyrocketed in the rankings from 193rd last year to 68th this year.

“When we founded Harding, the naysayers claimed low-income students could not handle the rigor of a college preparatory curriculum,” said Barresi, a Republican candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “After seven years of operation, it’s clear the critics were wrong and the Newsweek ranking is further proof of that fact. I believe we can now take the lessons learned at Harding and apply them to all Oklahoma schools to benefit every child in the state. My mission is to make every local public school so successful that it is parents’ first and best choice for their children.”

Newsweek noted that 77 percent of students at Harding receive free or reduce lunches, a measurement of poverty.

Unlike private schools or magnet schools, Barresi noted that Harding cannot cherry pick students. Any child living within the Oklahoma City school district is eligible to attend.

“Harding’s success is not based on cherry picking students, but is the result of successful teaching strategies that can be employed anywhere,” Barresi said. “When you set high expectations, children will rise to the challenge – my experience with Harding proves it. I am very proud of Harding’s students, but I believe all Oklahoma children are capable of similar achievement. My goal as state superintendent will be to raise the performance of all Oklahoma schools.”

Each year, Newsweek ranks the nation’s top high schools based on advanced placement college-level courses and tests. Just 6 percent of all the public schools in the United States make the list.

Barresi noted that 98 percent of students in Harding Charter Preparatory School’s 2010 graduating class are going to college in spite of the fact that 70 percent were the first in their family to go to college and over 30 percent were the first in their family to graduate high school. The 2010 class has earned, to date, $1.75 million in scholarships, and more notifications are coming in. The group’s ACT composite score was 22.7, which is above the national and state average. The school administered 427 Advanced Placement End-of-Instruction examinations to 125 students, nearly double the number of tests administered to the entire Oklahoma City School District.

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