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SALT LAKE CITY -- In April, we launched the KSL Schools project, a comprehensive database on the state's high schools. Many people asked us to include charter schools, so here are the new rankings.
Our original rankings listed Park City, Davis, Skyline, Viewmont and Lone Peak as Utah's top five high schools. Now, the Academy of Math, Engineering and Science moves in at No. 4.
The Salt Lake County charter school ranks high in proficiency, progress and AP tests; our three criteria. It also recruits first-generation college students.
"It's the notion of free, public education. It's the step up. It's the leg-up. It's the American Dream," said the school's principal, Dr. Al Church.
With a graduating class of 88 for the latest year of state data, AMES also qualified for our small school rankings and actually ranked at the top of the list, ahead of Panguitch, Valley, Morgan, North Summit and Wayne high schools.
Charter schools also factored in on "proficiency scores," or how well a school does preparing students to master the basics. Altamont High School outside Duchesne is still No. 1 in preparing students for state standards. Right behind, is the Success Academy, a southern Utah charter school.
The Success Academy also ranked at the top of the list in language. Piute remained most proficient in math, and Altamont is No. 1 in science. The up-and-coming school measuring No. 1 for progress is East Hollywood High, another Salt Lake charter.
Administrators say even with the rapid growth of charter schools, people still have a lot of misperceptions. "There are still a lot of people who call and ask: What's the tuition? How can I get my child to be able to attend? We're public. We're open to anyone who wants to come," said Marlies Burns, director of the Utah Charter School Board.
Although, Burns does point out that many charter schools have lotteries and waiting lists to see who gets in.