2 local schools get top state billing in national ranking

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-- Two schools in North Charleston got top marks in the U.S. News and World Report's ranking of best schools.Academic Magnet High School ranked first in the state and 27th in the nation in academics. Charleston County School of the Arts ranked second in the state. Both schools got a gold medal from the Washington D.C. based publication."We evaluated nearly 22,000 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Schools were awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals based on state proficiency standards, how well they prepare students for college, and other factors," the U.S. News and World Report web site states.

"It's affirmation from the media that the work that we're doing is on target for our students," said Academic Magnet School Principal Judith Peterson. "It is really nice to be affirmed by a publication that what we believe in does indeed matter and makes a difference."While their school may have landed on top, it's not numbers that bring some Academic Magnet students through the door."I know for me more than anything it wasn't the ranking of the school that made me want to come here," said AMHS senior Zachary Watson. "It was the close-knit community that I felt when I was talking to students that came here so I'm hoping that more than{}just the number, they come here because they want a better education and they want to better themselves."The top ranks aren't the only recognition Charleston schools are getting. Top ranking officials are paying attention as well.State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais will visit Charleston County schools on Friday, May 11 along with Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers from Washington D.C."I can show off four wonderful schools in Charleston that I was bragging about," Zais said. "All of which are top notch schools, all very different with different demographics of students but all getting outstanding results."The schools Zais will be visiting include James Island Charter High, Charleston Military Magnet, Garrett Academy of Technology, and Academic Magnet High School. According to a release from the South Carolina Department of Education, these magnet and charter schools are among the highest achieving in the state with high graduation rates."We have some of the most effective schools in the nation here in South Carolina and frankly some of the most troubled, but I'm happy to show these four off," Zais said.When asked about the ranking, Zais said it helps prove that education is a priority in the Palmetto State."I think it just reflects positively on Charleston," said Zais. "I think it shows that a lot of folks that are outside of South Carolina that don't recognize the quality of some of our schools have something to learn."