Durango High School Earns Top Ranking

May 31, 2024

Durango High School has been ranked in the top 10% of public high schools in the country. The U.S. News & World Reports methodology focuses on six factors: college readiness, reading, math and science proficiency, reading, math and science performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. The rankings also put D.H.S. in the top 9% of Colorado public high schools. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Tafoya, Barrett & Associates and Freddies Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.

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Durango High School is one of the top public high schools in America, according to reports ranking public high schools across the state and the nation. You're watching "The Local News Network" brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. I'm Connor Shreve. A new report from US News and World Report puts Durango High School in the top 10% of public high schools nationwide. The new rankings moves Durango High School up 11 places from last year. This continues a trend for DHS, which has been climbing the rankings for the better part of the last decade. Principal Dr. Jon Hoerl says he wanted to transform the way Durango approached public education when he got the job eight years ago.

Really looking at the different opportunities that we have in our career-concentrated learning. 14 different pathways that students can access to earn certifications in different industries, ranging everything from fashion, interior design, to engineering, to welding, wood shop, to our culinary and our Ag programs. I think we've done a phenomenal job of giving kids opportunities to pursue passions.

Graduation rates, one of the factors considered by US News and World Reports, have jumped to 95%, something Hoerl credits to the district's adaptability.

Our career and technical education pathways have exploded. We've been able to refurbish computer labs across this entire building and turn them into medical labs, into interior fashion design labs, into digital media arts. Big project over the summer as we're going to be creating our broadcast journalism booth that's going to have sound booths, audio booths and a green room.

He says 9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser's dedication to helping students find their passion helps the school's direction. One of DHS's focuses is keeping education accessible.

So that's the other piece of it too, is that we know college is not as affordable of an option as it was 20, 25 years ago. So giving kids the chance to earn those college credits before they leave us, where they can go in, as a late freshman and early sophomore, in some cases, all the way through their sophomore year, before they even step foot on a campus, really give kids a leg up.

The latest ranking moves DHS up 11 spots from the year prior. And Dr. Hoerl says it should mean something to the entire district.

When you look at a lot of those top public schools, it's the strand all the way from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. So to be able to have some acknowledgement of the hard work that our community, that our staff and our students have put into this is I think tremendous.

He attributes the school's trajectory to a number of factors.

We've seen an increase in our graduation rate over the last eight years, from 83% to 95%. And we took over an inclusive offering for advanced placement. It wasn't an exclusive program, but an inclusive one. And really our goal is that we would love for every student in our campus to take advantage of a college class at least before they leave us.

At the end of the Spring 2024 semester, Durango High School administered more than 1,000 advanced placement tests. For more information about this and other stories, visit DurangoLocal.news. Thanks for watching this edition of "The Local News Network." I'm Connor Shreve.


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