Written by: Cooper Aspegren
Gunn was recently ranked the fourth best Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) public high school in the country by “U.S. News and World Report.” The schools first had to be listed as a gold medal winner in the “U.S. News” Best High Schools rankings as of May 2012. Schools were then ranked according to a STEM index out of 100 possible points. The index is based on the percentage of twelfth graders Advanced Placement (AP) test takers who passed any AP math or science exam.
The STEM Science Achievement Index is derived from the percentage of 2010 graduates who were AP test takers and took at least one AP STEM course during high school. The percentage of students who took an AP science class was weighted 25 percent. The percentage of 2010 graduates who passed an AP science test was weighted 75 percent. The STEM math Achievement Index is calculated the same way but with AP math courses. The two scores were then averaged together to create the school’s overall score.
According to science Instructional Supervisor Laura Pennington, the score simply indicates students’ ability to perform well during exams. “To me, the ranking means the students at our school are very good at taking tests,” she said. “I also think that the AP teachers at our school run rigorous courses specifically designed to make students successful on AP exams.”
Gunn’s success is often attributed to not only the number of available opportunities, but also to the work of students, parents and teachers. “I think Gunn’s success comes from a combination of hard working students who are interested in science and technology, supportive parents and excellent teachers,” math Instructional Supervisor Kathy Hawes said.
Villalobos stresses that the success of STEM is equally important to the success of the humanities on campus and that all of Gunn’s programs connect to one another.
“STEM for me is not just about the four areas, but all of the curriculum and how we support that,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful, but I think that the ranking in and of itself is a product of all the things we do at Gunn.”