A national news magazine has singled out several area school districts as the best for their efforts to prepare students for college or careers.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Le Grand High School as 172nd of 2,039 California schools and 834th out of 21,000 campuses in the United States.
Also ranked were Golden Valley, Atwater, Livingston, Delhi and Mariposa high schools.
The magazine said great high schools must serve all students, not just those who are college-bound and produce measurable academic outcomes.
Donna Alley, superintendent of the 492-student Le Grand Union High School District, was elated with the magazine's findings, which were released last week.
"We were happy," Alley said. "In the county we were the highest based on 2010-2011 data. Are we where we want to be? No, we want to continue to grow."
Alley said the magazine cited the fact that 36 percent of Le Grand students were going to four-year colleges. The high school has 92 percent minority enrollment and 99 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Javier Martinez, Le Grand High School principal, was pleased with the recognition.
"Obviously, it's a reflection of the hard work everyone has done," Martinez said, "including students, teachers, staff members and parents as well. It goes to show if you put your mind to work, great things will come from it. It's a reminder that hard work does pay off."
Advanced classes help
Elizabeth Santacruz teaches Advanced Placement Spanish classes at Le Grand High. She said the number of students taking those classes has increased over the years. She has 42 students in advanced Spanish and 12 students taking an advanced Spanish literature class.
Le Grand also has advanced placement classes in U.S. and world history and calculus, Santacruz said. Those advanced classes push students, she said, because there is much more outside reading, writing and homework.
Golden Valley was ranked 316th in California and 1,386th nationally, with a 26 percent college readiness rating.
Livingston was ranked 427th in California and 1,855th nationally, with 19.8 percent college readiness. Atwater was ranked 447th in the state and 1,926th nationally, with 18.8 percent readiness rating.
Delhi was ranked 485th in California and 2,194th nationally.
Delhi Unified School District Superintendent Brian Stevens said the ranking is a salute to teachers, administrators and classified employees as well as a great reflection on the community.
"We are always pleased with recognition for hard work going on at school," Stevens said. "Our students are working hard."
Grizzlies make mark
Mariposa County High School was ranked 391st in California and 1,682 nationally, with 21.9 percent readiness rating.
U.S. News & World Report used the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research, one of the world's largest behavioral and social science organizations, to help gather data from the high schools.