Carnegie Vanguard High School (CVHS) started as a school-within-a-school Vanguard program at Jesse H. Jones Senior High School in 1977. In 2002, CVHS became an independent high school. CVHS’s mission is “to provide a unique and challenging learning environment to prepare the diverse gifted & talented population of Houston Independent School District for leadership in a global society.” It is the sole dedicated magnet high school for the Vanguard gifted & talented program in HISD. Carnegie Vanguard is consistently counted among the best public schools in the state and in the nation; in 2015, it was ranked 6th nationwide by US News & World Report.
As a magnet school within HISD, CVHS has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student’s record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
Carnegie’s campus sits on a 6-acre lot at the corner of West Gray and Taft next to Gregory Lincoln Magnet School. The school is LEED certified with green facilities and operations, including a green roof. Many views from within the campus face inward to two courtyards, a layout which is designed to emulate a small liberal arts college. Carnegie’s new campus includes a parking garage, a library, an amphitheater, and a large open green for soccer, volleyball, and baseball. Additionally, in 2013, the historic Settegast building along West Gray Street was renovated to accommodate the school’s fine arts programs, and HISD has since repurposed a former Orange Crush facility into a performing arts building for CVHS.
Carnegie’s admission process is split between applicants who are already identified as Gifted and Talented (G/T) in HISD and those who are not already identified at G/T. Both types of prospective students must complete the HISD magnet application and demonstrate proof of HISD residency. HISD residents should apply during the Phase 1 application window, which lasts from late September until early December for the subsequent school year, and admitted students are notified by late March.
In addition to the application, students already identified as G/T in HISD must submit their HISD G/T Middle School Identification Matrix (or G/T profile sheet) and a copy of their G/T status report.
Students not already identified as G/T in HISD or attending a private school must submit their previous year’s final report card and a teacher recommendation form along with their application. In addition, they must schedule G/T testing through their current HISD school or through their zoned HISD campus in order to seek identification as Gifted and Talented.
Qualified applications are placed into a lottery if the number of applications outnumbers the number of available positions at Carnegie. The school reserves 20% of its openings for applicants whose siblings are currently enrolled and gives extra weight to students who are of low socio-economic status. Should the number of legacy applicants exceed the number of reserved positions, then a separate lottery is held.
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Carnegie Vanguard offers one track — AP. Pre-AP classes lead to 20 classes from the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. The only Honors classes are electives. CVHS offers the following AP courses: AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Art History, AP Spanish Language, AP Spanish Literature, AP Calculus AB/BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science, AP Human Geography, AP World History, AP U.S. History, AP Government, AP Economics Macro/Micro, and AP European History. Carnegie offers both the Recommended and the Distinguished Diplomas, but it encourages its students to earn a Distinguished Diploma.
Students now matriculating will graduate under the new Foundation High School Program. The basic requirements are as follows: four credits of English, three credits of math, three credits of science, four credits of social studies, one credit of PE, one-half credit of Health, two credits of the same language (other than English), one credit of fine arts, and three and one-half credits of electives, for a total of 22 credits.
Most students who graduate under the Foundation High School Program will take one or more “endorsements” in addition to the basic curricular requirements. An endorsement is essentially the high school equivalent of a college major. Students who take an endorsement must complete 26 credits, including a fourth credit each of math and science and any additional credits needed to fulfill the endorsement’s curricular requirements.
There are five possible endorsements: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, and Multidisciplinary. Carnegie offers all but Public Services.
- To earn an endorsement in STEM, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses from CTE courses within the STEM cluster, computer science, math, science, or any two of these four.
- To earn an endorsement in Business and Industry, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses from a focus area in CTE, or English electives, or technology applications, or a combination of any of these three.
- To earn an endorsement in Arts and Humanities, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses in social studies, a language other than English, two levels in two languages other than English, ASL, the fine arts, or English electives not counted under Business & Industry.
- To earn an endorsement in Multidisciplinary, a student must complete a coherent sequence of four courses related to preparation for entering the workforce; or one advanced course in each of the four core areas; or four AP, IB, or dual credit courses from the core areas, economics, languages other than English, or the fine arts.
A student who qualifies for at least one endorsement also qualifies for the Distinguished Level of Achievement supplementary endorsement, which is a necessary prerequisite for in-state college admission under the top 10% rule. Students may also earn Performance Acknowledgements for noteworthy career-focused or academic achievements, including qualifying scores on AP and IB exams and the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
CVHS students must complete at least three years of a foreign language to graduate. Instruction in several languages is offered — Latin up to Latin IV, Spanish up to Spanish III followed by AP Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature, French up to French IV (Language and Culture AP), Mandarin, and Arabic (which currently only counts an elective). If a student has completed a language credit in seventh and/or eighth grade, then one foreign language credit is earned towards graduation.
CVHS students must complete at least one year of a fine art elective to graduate. Some of the more notable options include Art I-IV, Theatre, and Photography. The newly remodeled Settegast Building houses the fine arts programs and includes a theatre, a photography studio, an art studio, and a music studio with access to the outside amphitheater. HISD also recently repurposed a former Orange Crush facility into a performing arts building for CVHS.
CVHS offers Business Information Management as a part of its career and technical education department and AP Computer Science as part of its science department, but a technology credit is no longer required to graduate.
CVHS offers a number of different clubs and activities to its students. Some examples include: UIL (University Interscholastic League) Academic Competitions, Photography Club, Checkers Club, Model United Nations, Live Music Club, Yearbook, Newspaper, and National Honor Society.
Students are not required to participate in a sport at CVHS. The school has four UIL athletic teams: baseball, cross country, tennis, and volleyball.
The CVHS Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) supports clubs, community events, teacher appreciation, fundraising events, and more. The PTO has been the driving force for funding construction projects not covered in the schools budget, such as the performing arts building; it raised over $175,000 in 2012. The PTO’s purpose “is to promote and provide social and cultural opportunities for Vanguard students, to improve the school environment, and to foster further development of the Vanguard program and other gifted and talented programs both within and outside HISD.”
The school also has a Shared Decision Making Committee, through which interested parents can join with teachers and community members to advise the principal on important administrative matters.