Marco Island Academy, a tuition-free, public charter high school, is rated in the top 2% of America’s Most Challenging High Schools by The Washington Post in 2016. The list is comprised of public, charter and private schools across America. Out of the 22,000 schools that were evaluated, only 2,300 made the list. Marco Island Academy (MIA) made the list at #255- landing the school in the top 2% in the nation. The rankings are based on results from the 2014-2015 school year.
Last year, MIA achieved a 97.3% graduation rate, with 85% of the graduates going on to attend post-secondary programs. Schools are ranked by the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of students who graduated.
Marco Island Academy college preparatory program focuses on the Cambridge program. The Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Diploma is an international curriculum and examination system with an emphasis on the value of broad and balanced study. Students gain an in-depth understanding of a variety of subjects, and must master a broader range of skills critical for success in college and beyond. When students pass an AICE class, they receive high school credit. If they pass the AICE exam, students also receive college credit. Rather than computer based testing, the majority of AICE examinations use pencil and paper. Students must respond to each question with a written explanation using evidence to support their answers.
MIA students are demonstrating a mastery of the AICE curriculum. Highlights from the May/June 2015 Cambridge Examination Cycle include a:
- 95% IGCSE Biology pass-rate,
- 98% IGCSE History pass-rate,
- 100% IGCSE English Language pass-rate,
- 88% AICE Marine Science pass-rate
- 91% AICE Thinking Skills pass-rate
- 91% AICE General Paper pass-rate.
There are several reasons for the students’ outstanding results. The overall education system on Marco Island is excellent. Tommie Barfield Elementary and Marco Island Charter Middle School provide a solid foundation for many of the students who enter Marco Island Academy. The school also has students who move from many different geographic regions including France, England, Sweden and Germany. The Cambridge international curriculum serves the overall student population very well. MIA offers a block schedule with only four classes each semester. The school’s start time is later, beginning at 8:25 am. Prior to the first day of school, the principal, assistant principal, and dean of students meet with every incoming student and parent. They discuss his or her goals for the future. The administration has high expectations for each student. The team uses the information gathered from the initial meeting to devise a plan to help the student achieve success, both personally and academically. Everyone at the school works together as a team to best meet the needs of the students. Ultimately, this combination of hard-working students, passionate teachers, and a dynamic administration has produced dramatic results.
MIA’s Class of 2016 continues marked post-secondary success with acceptances to a variety of competitive and exemplary institutions. MIA students have received acceptances from the following post-secondary programs: Alderson Broaddus University, Alma College, Barry University, Bemidji State University, Bunker Hill Community College, Coker College, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Earlham College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Ferris State University, Flagler College, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida International University, Florida Polytechnic University, Florida Southern College, Florida State University, Jamestown University, Johnson & Wales University, Liberty University, Michigan State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New College of Florida, Northern Michigan University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Penn State University, Penn State University Schreyer Honors College, Philadelphia University, Princeton University, Ringling College of Art and Design, Rollins College, Saint Leo University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Stetson University, University of Alabama, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of Notre Dame, University of Tampa, University of Tampa Honors College, University of South Florida, University of West Florida, United States Coast Guard, Valdosta State University, West Point Military Academy, Wittenberg University.
Although the scores and statistics are outstanding, this is not what matters the most to the school. Success is measured by whether the students develop into thoughtful, engaged, and responsible young adults. MIA prepares students to take the next step and pushes them to pursue their dreams.
As graduation rapidly approaches, part of me selfishly feels a sense of loss. I will miss seeing the seniors smiling faces on campus and hearing about their latest achievements. However, when I think of the future doctors, lawyers, educators, scientists, and artists who are graduating this year, I am greatly encouraged. These bright young students give us hope for a brighter future.