School of Science and Engineering at Townview Magnet Center
One of six semi-independent schools within the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center, the School of Science and Engineering has received numerous accolades. In 2005, it was named a National Blue Ribbon School. In 2008, it earned the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement for having the best AP program in the state. The School of Science and Engineering, also called the Science and Engineering Magnet, (SEM) was ranked the fourth best high school in the nation by Newsweek magazine in June 2010. The school also boasts remarkable test scores: In the 2008-09 academic year, every student met the minimum proficiency standard in all subjects tested by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Moreover, SEM students surpassed the district goals for the college-ready standard in all tested subjects. In fact, they surpassed district goals in all metrics reported by the district in its annual report card. For five consecutive years, more minority students at SEM passed the AP Calculus exam than at any other school in the nation. The school serves a highly diverse student population. More than half of the students are Hispanic. And more than half are eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.
At SEM, all students must take Pre-Advanced Placement and Advanced Placement courses. Through Fast-Track courses in math, science, computer science and English, the school allows students to take twice as many classes as they otherwise would. SEM benefits from a strong partnership with Texas Instruments, which provides mentors and other resources. The school also partners with local community colleges and universities to offer its students dual-credit courses. As one of the best schools in the nation, SEM offers students state-of-the art equipment: an electron microscope that can magnify up to a million times; an ultra-microtone that can slice specimens to a thickness of one micrometer; and a fully equipped robotics lab where students build robots for competitions all across the country.
Approximately 75 percent of Townview Magnet Center teachers have advanced degrees in the fields they teach. In the 2008-09 academic year, the district scorecard reported that the average teacher attendance rate was 96 percent and that 100 percent of teachers were retained from the previous year. Teachers and students receive compensation for stellar student achievement. Students receive $100 for scoring a three or higher on any AP math, English or science exam. Teachers receive a $150 bonus for each student who earns those scores. And the principal and faculty are awarded an additional bonus if the number of passing scores exceeds that of the previous year.
SEM’s achievements stem not from remarkable gains in a short period of time. Nor is the school an overnight success. Rather, SEM has sustained student achievement over an extended period of time, showing that steady progress leads to lasting results.
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