Houston’s high-performing schools: How Carnegie Vanguard High School has achieved a 100 percent graduation rate


HOUSTONAt KPRC 2, we’re proud to showcase the schools and educators providing students with outstanding education in the area we serve. Here, we will profile some of the highest-performing schools in the Houston area to get a glimpse at what makes them so successful.

Carnegie Vanguard High School

Mascot: Rhino | Grades: 9-12 | Address: 1501 Taft Street, Houston, TX 77019 | Phone: (713) 732-3690

This week we take a look at Carnegie Vanguard High School, a public school located in Houston’s Fourth Ward. The school is consistently listed among the nation’s top high schools. Carnegie boasts a 100 percent graduation rate and, on average, students earn some of the highest SAT scores in the Houston Independent School District.

The magnet school serves HISD students identified as gifted and talented in the areas of academic ability, creativity and leadership.

The school offers students a rigorous and accelerated curriculum. All core classes offered are either Pre-Ap or AP courses.

Students at the school are either identified as gifted and talented by district educators prior to entrance or must undergo testing before applying to Carnegie.

By the numbers

Total enrollment: 808

Student-teacher ratio: 26.5 to 1

Economically disadvantaged students: 31.3%

English learners: 0.2%

Ethnic Distribution: African American (10.5%), Hispanic (32.1%), White (23.2%), American Indian (0.2%), Asian (30.4%), Two or more races (3.5%)

Average teacher experience: 12.3 years

Average teacher salary: $56,049

All of their honors

  • U.S. News & World Report ranks CVHS the fourth best high school in Texas and the 24th best in the nation.
  • In 2019, with an overall score of 97, CVHS earned an “A” grade in the Texas Education Agency’s annual accountability report.
  • Nonprofit Children at Risk ranked CVHS the third best Houston-area high school.
  • 100 percent of the school’s graduating class continue their education after graduation.
  • Carnegie students on average have some of the highest SAT test scores in the district.
Steward Savage discusses set design with students in his theater arts class at Carnegie Vanguard High School, April 23, 2013. (HISD)

4 questions with the school’s administrators

We asked school administrators to tell us more about Carnegie. School officials released the following responses.

Q: What sets CVHS apart from other schools in the Houston area?

A: Carnegie Vanguard High School is the only high school in the Houston Independent School District with 100% of its student enrollment identified as gifted and talented. The school’s mission is to provide a unique and challenging learning environment to prepare the diverse gifted and talented students of HISD for leadership in a global society. CVHS is very diverse with no single race/ethnic group in the majority: Latino 32%, Asian 30%, White 23%, Black 11%, Two or more races 4% (2018-19 numbers).

Q: What programs does CVHS offer?

A: The majority of courses at Carnegie Vanguard High School are pre-AP and AP (Advanced Placement), and beginning freshmen year, students gain experience with college-level thinking. While academic success is the main focus at CVHS, participation in extracurricular activities is strongly encouraged. With over 30 courses and electives as well as various sports, clubs, and organizations, students can find their own journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. One of our signature courses is the Texas Performance Standards Project (TPSP) which offers a non-traditional learning experience to students who have the ability to create innovative products or performances that are evaluated by an audience including experts in the field. Students work with mentors on their selected topics to gain “real world” experience, and frequently are able to determine a future field of study in college.

Q: What steps does the school plan to take to maintain its success and improve upon it going forward?

A: Having been named a National Blue Ribbon School and ranked as one of the top schools in the nation by various organizations, Carnegie Vanguard High School is a place where student interests are paramount, and teachers foster the talents of each individual student. It is our intent to continue meeting the demands and interests of multi-faceted students who exhibit giftedness or talent in a variety of subjects. We hope to continue to meet the demands of a changing demographic while remaining diverse and inviting. We want our students to continue feeling welcomed and free to explore and investigate new ideas while receiving an excellent education. We plan to engage the larger community in an effort to enhance our students’ learning experiences.

Q: What’s an interesting fact about the school?

A: When given the opportunity in 2002 to select a school mascot for its independence as a stand-alone school, our gifted student body chose the rhinoceros to remain unique.

Do you know an educator, school, or program enriching the education of students in the Houston area? Tell us about it at click2houston@kprc.com.