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AOC named one of America's best high schools

Posted: March 11, 2010 1:12 p.m.
Updated: March 12, 2010 1:12 p.m.
Academy of the Canyons, the Wm. S. Hart High School District's middle college high school, has been named one of America's Best High Schools by "U.S. News & World Report," placing it in the top 10 percent of high schools across the nation.

In selecting its America's Best High Schools award recipients, the magazine analyzed nearly 22,000 public high schools in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. The award is based on the key principles that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic results to show that the school is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.

Academy of the Canyons is located on the Valencia campus of College of the Canyons, and its students attend four core classes in their own high school setting, plus a minimum of six units of college-level work at COC. AOC currently serves students in grades 9 through 12.

The magazine used a three-step process to determine the best high schools. The first two steps ensured that the schools serve all of their students well, using state proficiency standards as the benchmarks. AOC scored 879 in the State of California's Academic Performance Index program last year, making it one of the highest scoring schools in the Hart District and well above the state's goal of 800 API for all schools in the state.

For those schools that made it past the first two steps, a third step assessed the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work. At AOC, students attend college classes on a regular basis and some ambitious students have been able to claim their Associate in Arts degree at the same time they receive their high school diploma.

Academy of the Canyons earned a bronze award from the America's Best High Schools project, one of only 1189 high schools across the nation to receive the honor. Principal Jill Shenberger and her staff will be honored by the Hart District Governing Board at its March 17 meeting.

"This ranking is a validation of our mission and a testament to the hard work of our staff and students," Shenberger commented. "It proves just how much students can do when expectations are high and support for student learning is a priority for every staff member.

AOC is open to students from across the Hart District, who demonstrate by written application and family interview that they are highly motivated and ready to do college-level work. The school is limited to 400 students in grades 9 through 12.

The school is currently in the middle of its recruitment drive for the fall semester, with evening meetings for prospective students and their parents planned for Thursday, March 11, at Valencia High School and another on Tuesday, March 16, in the cafeteria at College of the Canyons. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. The recruitment campaign ends April 2.

Shenberger listed several factors which contribute to making AOC one of America's Best High Schools. "We are fortunate to be a high school in the Wm. S. Hart Union High School district where our Governing Board and our district administration recognize and support the merits of a middle college high school," she explained. "College of the Canyons, our community college partner, further supports our mission and offers this opportunity for students who might otherwise never experience college at any level."

She added that the AOC staff is committed to effective classroom instruction, rigorous curricula and quality relationships between staff, students, parents and the school's college partner to ensure successful learning for every student.

 The school is located in the newly completed University Center on the College of the Canyons main campus.


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