06/14/12 — Charles B. Aycock on list of top high schools in U.S.

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Charles B. Aycock on list of top high schools in U.S.

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 14, 2012 1:46 PM

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Charles B. Aycock principal Dr. Earl Moore stands under the banner the school received as part of its recognition from U.S. News and World Report as one of the best schools in the country. Dr. Moore was "shocked" by the award and said, "It is a testament to the students, faculty and the community."

PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock High School has been named one of the best high schools in the nation.

The school received a "bronze medal" designation on U.S. News & World Report's list of "America's Best High Schools."

There are three award categories -- gold, for top 500 schools based on highest college readiness; silver, for high-performing schools with lower college readiness; and bronze, for high-performing schools, based on state exam performance.

From North Carolina, 73 high schools made the list -- 18 silver medals and 55 bronze. CBA was the only one from Wayne County Public Schools represented this year.

Two schools from neighboring Duplin County also earned the bronze distinction, James Kenan and Wallace-Rose Hill high schools.

A three-step process is used to determine the ranking schools. The first two use the state proficiency tests as the benchmark -- measuring how students perform compared to other students around the state, as well as how the least-advantaged students performed compared with their counterparts in the state -- while the third step assessed how schools prepare students for college-level work.

According to the publication's website, Aycock's college readiness index, determined by the percentage of students tested and their proficiency, was 15.8 percent. An estimated 24 percent of the seniors took the state test and 13 percent passed.

College readiness is based on the percentage of 12th-graders who were tested and passed advanced placement, or AP, exams. In the subject area measured, Algebra I, 79 percent were proficient.

Dr. Earl Moore, CBA principal, said he was "excited and elated" over the announcement.

"It just shows the hard work and dedication of the staff and more importantly, just the hard work of the students and their commitment to education," he said. "I'm just blessed to be part of a supportive community with excellent parental support. With home and school working closely together, this honor and this ranking was made possible."

Renee Dilda, a counselor at the school, said getting students "college-ready" is always at the forefront in her department -- from looking at four-year college plans to choosing level of courses for students.

"We have spent many, many years trying to create a college-going environment here and we want every student preparing to enter college, whether that's their final decision or not," she said. "We want them to have the readiness and the skills regardless of what their decision is."

While not every student will take AP classes or go on to college, students are encouraged to challenge themselves and take as many advanced classes as they can, said Becky Hare, chairperson of the math department.

"Currently, the school offers two AP math classes, statistics and calculus," she said. "Part of the calculation of that (honor) was the Algebra I scores. We were very pleased that our hard work paid off to help the school succeed."

Recent graduate and student body president this past year, Cameron Taylor took as many AP classes as were offered at the school. He said he feels better-prepared as he heads to UNC-Chapel Hill this fall.

"I had great teachers. They take the AP exams very seriously and want us all to excel in them so we can get college credit," he said. "I'm very confident in my education. I feel that the excellent teachers have challenged all the students at Aycock to do their best. I feel that we're all ready (for college)."

Receiving the national honor was definitely a morale booster for the staff as well as the students, Mrs. Dilda said.

"It means everyone's hard work, it's showing that it's paying off and it encourages us not only to continue doing what we have been doing, but it kind of gives us the courage to try something new," she said. "We have already been talking about some things that we can do for next year and taking it a step further.

"I think the kids feel that, too, and we have already seen an increase in students coming down and asking, 'Why do we score higher in that area?,' 'So, I can take these higher courses?' They want more information about whatever they will see in the newspaper or see on the websites. I think that's a ripple effect. Everybody benefits from it."

In previous years, other schools from the district have also been represented on the U.S. News list.

In 2010, Eastern Wayne High was one of 11 public schools in the state to receive a silver medal ranking, while Wayne Early/Middle College High School and Goldsboro High School were among 31 in the state to earn bronze medals.

In 2008, Spring Creek High was on the bronze medal list.