The school has received the College Readiness Award, which was based on the number of 2008 graduates who scored at or above the Texas Education Agency’s college ready criteria in English/language arts and mathematics. Thirty-five percent or more of the graduates were required to meet that criteria.
The school was not given its exact percentage, only that it exceeded 35 percent.
Pettus Secondary was also awarded Commended Performance in Writing. Thirty percent or more of test-takers scored at or above the TAKS commended performance standard.
In addition, the school received the Texas Success Initiative in mathematics, meaning 60 percent or more of 11th-grade testers earned a scale score of 2200 or greater on the mathematics TAKS test. A score of 2100 is the minimum to pass.
Finally, Pettus Secondary has been named a Bronze Medal high school by U.S. News & World Report for the second year in a row.
The list was based on an analysis of 21,786 high schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Of those schools, the top 100 were awarded the gold medal, 461 won silver and 1,189 earned bronze.
The data collected looked at performance on state tests, college readiness based on Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams and whether or not economically disadvantaged students performed better than statistical expectations, according to the study.
Principal Brian Thompson said the school did not qualify for gold or silver because it did not have enough students taking AP exams.
However, the principal swelled with pride for his students and teachers.
“Our success is the result of the great teachers we have at Pettus Secondary School. The teachers have high expectations for the students all of the time,” he boasted. “It is incredible how much everyone cares about the students here in Pettus.”
Seniors James Constante and Kelsey Brown were quick to agree.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere. Everybody knows each other,” said Constante. “That’s one of the main things. It’s a lot less stressful on the kids... It’s an easier atmosphere to perform in. There’s less stress.”
Brown thought the school’s small, close-knit community contributed to its success.
“Since we’re such a small school, we have more one on one time with each of the teachers,” she said. “It’s not hard to get the attention you need if your grades aren’t up to par.”
Most students are also involved in several activities, Brown said.
“You can be involved in anything,” said the senior. “Everybody’s intertwined. I think it brings us more together as a school instead of there being conflicts between people.”
As to the school’s goals for the future, Thompson said he wants to at least maintain receiving those awards.
“There are 1,721 high schools in Texas and only 121 received [the bronze medal] from the US News and World Report. This shows we are doing a great job here at Pettus High School,” he said. “Obviously, we want to improve. We were Recognized last year (in state accountability ratings), which was the first time the school’s ever been Recognized, so that shows our scores are coming up.”
The principal said he would like to see more students take AP classes, but “we would have a hard time reaching gold or silver because we don’t have the number of kids.”
However, the school will strive to earn bronze for a third consecutive year, Thompson said.