In 1972, DeBakey opened at Baylor College of Medicine. Now on its own campus, DeBakey maintains close ties with the Texas Medical Center, giving students the opportunity to experience the Medical Center’s healthcare and research facilities while still in high school. Debakey’s mission is “to provide a challenging, well-balanced college preparatory program which focuses on educational experiences in science and the health professions and to further an understanding of [a] multicultural community.”
As a magnet school within HISD, DeBakey 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.
Currently situated east of the Medical Center, DeBakey is on Shenandoah Street near Highway 288. Originally, DeBakey was located at Baylor College of Medicine and was named The High School for Health Professions. In 1996, the school was renamed to honor the famous cardiac surgeon, Michael DeBakey. The current campus features a three-story building with twenty rooms per floor. The campus also includes a library, an auditorium, and separate testing rooms.
DeBakey is open to all students residing in HISD. Students can apply to a total of five (5) Magnet Programs; applications may be submitted online or on paper, and additional materials can be sent to the school by mail.
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. Admission is based on the lottery system, and all eligible students have an equal chance of admission.
Along with the application, students may be asked to submit the following materials:
- Their most recent report card
- The previous year’s final report card
- Their test record card, and
- Proof of HISD residency.
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DeBakey offers two tracks – On-Track and AP. Dual enrollment classes are also available to supplement either track. Pre-AP classes lead to 15 classes from the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. DeBakey offers the following AP courses: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Calculus AB/BC, AP Statistics, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Economics, AP World History, AP U.S. History, AP Government, AP Spanish Language, and AP French Language.
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. DeBakey offers all five.
- 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 Public Services, a student must complete elective credits in JROTC or a coherent sequence of courses from the CTE focus areas in Education & Training; Government & Public Administration; Health Science; Human Services; or Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security.
- 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.
DeBakey also requires that students complete 100 hours of community service in order to graduate.
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.
DeBakey’s Language Other Than English Department bases its program around a five part objective, called the “Five C’s.” These objectives are Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. DeBakey students must complete three years of a foreign language to graduate. Students may satisfy this requirement with courses in French or Spanish, both of which are available through the AP level.
DeBakey students must complete at least one year of a fine art elective to graduate. Fine arts offerings include both visual arts and theatre arts. Drama students may participate in on-campus theatrical productions.
DeBakey has four computer labs with approximately 20-25 computers in each one. Technology-centered courses include Business Communication Information Systems and Web Mastering.
DeBakey offers a number of different clubs and activities to its students. Some examples include Debate, Yearbook, Student Council, Newspaper, Ceramics/Sculpture, and Community Service.
Since DeBakey’s health science curriculum requires so much after-school time, DeBakey does not have any official sports teams. However, students are allowed to participate in the sports programs at the high school to which they were originally zoned. Students should contact DeBakey’s P.E. teachers or administrators to determine what is required to participate in these schools’ sports programs.
To volunteer, parents should join DeBakey’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), which meets a handful of times a year. Approved HISD volunteers may involve themselves in a number of school activities, including chaperoning events, providing administrative support in the main office, and supporting campus initiatives like teacher celebrations and uniform sales.
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.