Here's what Houston schools have been lauded for training the city's future leaders. Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

t's report card time, and four Houston high schools have made the grade, earning top 100 spots in this year's prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings of the Best U.S. High Schools. One even merited a special distinction.

Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School ranked highest on the list at No. 42. The school is ranked fifth within Texas. The Advanced Placement coursework participation rate there is 100 percent; total minority enrollment is 77 percent, and 31 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Following close behind is the prestigious DeBakey High School for Health Professions at No. 46 overall. The renowned medical prep school boasts an AP participation rate of 98 percent, total minority enrollment is 88 percent, and 44 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Farther down the list is Challenge Early College High School, at No. 89 overall. The AP participation rate here is 100 percent, total minority enrollment is 92 percent, and 76 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

At No. 97 overall is Young Women's College Prep Academy. The AP participation rate here is 100 percent. The total minority enrollment is 97 percent, and nearly all students — some 96 percent — are economically disadvantaged.

The 2021 edition is U.S. News' most comprehensive survey yet, with the consumer advice outlet evaluating more than 17,800 public high schools on how well they serve all of their students, regardless of economic or ethnic background.

To determine rankings, they focus on six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. College readiness specifically measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

Notably, the data used in this edition is from the 2018-2019 academic school year, so it was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Families can use the Best High Schools rankings to see how schools compare at the national, state and local level on factors like graduation rates and college readiness," said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News, in a statement. "The rankings also provide insight into academic performance among underserved groups showing how well schools are supporting these students."

Eight more Texas schools also appear on the national top 100 list:

  • No. 13, School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas
  • No. 15, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas
  • No. 39, The Science and Engineering Magnet School, Dallas
  • No. 41, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin
  • No. 42, Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston
  • No. 46, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston
  • No. 59, Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas
  • No. 68, IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
  • No. 89, Challenge Early College High School, Houston
  • No. 96, Health Careers High School, San Antonio
  • No. 97, Young Women's College Prep Academy, Houston
  • No. 98, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Austin

Just over the top 100 threshold is Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, coming in at No. 101.

Texas had 1,524 schools ranked this year, of which 42 placed in the top 5 percent, 79 in the top 10 percent, and 157 in the top 25 percent nationally.

Statewide, the top 10 highest ranking schools were:

  1. The School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG), Dallas
  2. Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas
  3. Science and Engineering Magnet School (SEM), Dallas
  4. Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), Austin
  5. Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston
  6. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston
  7. Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas
  8. IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
  9. Challenge Early College High School, Houston
  10. Health Careers High School, San Antonio

So, which school throughout the country ranks as this year's valedictorian? Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia was deemed the best in the country, as well as among magnet schools. Read the full report and search for schools here.

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston SaaS startup closes $12M series A funding round with support from local VC

money moves

A Houston startup with a software-as-a-service platform for the energy transition has announced it closed a funding round with participation from a local venture capital.

Molecule closed its $12 million series A, and Houston-based Mercury Fund was among the company's investors. The company has a cloud-based energy trading and risk management solution for the energy industry and supports power, natural gas, crude/refined products, chemicals, agricultural commodities, softs, metals, cryptocurrencies, and more.

"We led the seed round of Molecule upon their formation and are excited to participate in their series A," says Blair Garrou, co-founder and managing director of Mercury, in a news release. "Molecule's success in the ETRM/CTRM industry, especially in relation to electricity and renewables, positions them as the company to beat for the energy transition in the 2020s."

The company will use its new funds to further build out its product as well as introduce offerings to manage renewables credits, according to the release.

"In 2020, we realized that electricity — the growth commodity of the 2020s — represented over half of Molecule's customer base, and we decided to double down," says Sameer Soleja, founder and CEO of Molecule, in the release. "We were also rated the No. 1 SaaS ETRM/CTRM vendor. With this fundraise, we have the fuel to become No. 1 SaaS platform for power and renewables, and then the market leader overall.

"Molecule is ready to power the energy transition," Soleja continues.

Molecule's last round of funding closed in November 2014. The $1.1 million seed round was supported by Mercury Fund and the Houston Angel Network.

Houston-based afterlife planning startup launches new app

there's an app for that

The passing of a loved one is followed with grief — and paperwork. A Houston company that's simplifying the process of afterlife planning and decision making is making things even easier with a new smartphone app.

The Postage, a digital platform meant to ease with affair planning, recently launched a mobile app to make the service more accessible following a particularly deadly year. The United States recorded 3.2 million fatalities — the most deaths in its history, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After losing three family members back-to-back, Emily Cisek dealt first hand with the difficulty of wrapping up a loved one's life. She saw how afterlife planning interrupted her family's grieving and caused deep frustration. Soon, she began to envision a solution to help people have a plan and walk through the process of losing someone.

The Postage, which launched in September, provides a platform for people to plan their affairs and leave behind wishes for loved ones. The website includes document storage and organization, password management, funeral and last wishes planning, and the option to create afterlife messages to posthumously share with loved ones.

"Right now, as it stands ahead of this app, end-of-life planning is really challenging. It's this daunting thing you have to sit down and do at your computer," says Cisek. Not only is it "daunting," but it's time-consuming. According to The Postage, families can expect to spend nearly 500 hours on completing end-of-life details if there is no planning done in advance.

With more than 74 percent of The Postage's web traffic coming from mobile users, an app was a natural progression. In fact, Entrepreneur reports the average person will spend nine years on their mobile device. Cisek wanted to meet users where they are at with a user-friendly app that includes the same features as the desktop website.

"What we wanted to do [with the app] is make it so easy to plan your life and the end of your life using one click — as easy as it was for posting and commenting on social media," explains Cisek. "People are so used to reflecting on those behaviors and clicking one button to add a picture ... we wanted to make it that simple," she continued.

Cisek and her team focused on providing a "seamless experience" within the app, which took approximately four months to build, which mirrors the desktop platform.

Though The Postage's website had mobile functionality, the app includes the ability to record and upload content. Whether snapping a picture of their insurance policy or recording a video to share with loved ones, The Postage app allows users to capture photos and videos directly within the app.

After snapping a picture, "the next step inherently is sharing it with your loved ones," says Cisek. Photos, family recipes and videos can easily be shared securely with loved ones who accept your invitation to The Postage so "that legacy continues on," she says.

Since The Postage's fall launch, the company has grown a steady base of paid subscribers with plans to expand.

"We're really starting to change the way people plan for the future," says Cisek.