Lake Highlands High ranks as the top public school in Dallas other than DISD magnets and Highland Park according to a newly updated study by Children at Risk. The Houston-based nonprofit group analyzes 5,800 public schools based on 14 criteria, including completion of Advanced Placement courses, SAT scores, and dropout rates. Academic results are adjusted for the percentage of economically disadvantaged students.

Children at Risk prides itself on evaluating how well schools prepare kids for the real life worlds of college and work, so they rely more on measures like AP tests and less on TAKS passage rates. Schools that focus too much on teaching to the TAKS test may not be preparing students for college, they say.

The student advocacy group recognizes that many of the top-performing schools – especially magnets – spend more per student than other campuses. As budget cuts loom, these programs could struggle to maintain their perennially-high rankings.

Lake Highlands is unique among the top ranked Dallas schools on the list. On the one hand, 42.7% of our students qualify as economically disadvantaged. (Here’s a plug: I hope you’ll read the great story in this month’s Advocate about LHHS students overcoming adversity.) On the other are kids blessed with great advantage and opportunity. It’s my opinion that this mix is a part of what makes Lake Highlands special.