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Metro High School cracks Newsweek's list of top 100 high schools

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 12, 2009 - The St. Louis School District has plenty of problems, including the struggle to regain state accreditation, reverse declining enrollment and boost its overall low scores on the Missouri Assessment Program achievement test.

Yet the district continues to have schools that rank among the best. Once again this year, Metro High was singled out for recognition in Newsweek's annual rankings of the nation's top high schools. The college prep high school moved up 26 notches on the list; now ranked No. 96, it is the only Missouri school that cracked the top 100 list, ahead of seven better known and highly regarded public schools in the St. Louis area.

Among the other seven, the Rockwood school district had three: Lafayette (552); Marquette (691); and Rockwood Summit (984). The other area high schools on the list were: Ladue's Horton Watkins (256); Clayton (368); Lindbergh (697); and Parkway West (1,426).

Paula Knight, executive director of curriculum and instruction for St. Louis Public Schools, says Metro stands out because its educators "set high expectations," and because the school attracts "a diverse group of students that represent not only the city's superior students, but the county's advanced student population as well."

In fact, most of Metro's 300 students live in St. Louis; only about 50 St. Louis County students attend Metro as part of the city-county desegregation program.

The Newsweek list includes what it considers the top 1,500 public high schools and ranks them according to their offerings of rigorous course material - such as the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge tests - during the school term. That number of tough courses is divided by the number of seniors who graduate in June. Newsweek says fewer than 6 percent of the nation's 27,000 high schools qualify for the rankings.

Robert Joiner has carved a niche in providing informed reporting about a range of medical issues. He won a Dennis A. Hunt Journalism Award for the Beacon’s "Worlds Apart" series on health-care disparities. His journalism experience includes working at the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he was a beat reporter, wire editor, editorial writer, columnist, and member of the Washington bureau.