Local educators are encouraged by programs that have been put in place at R.A. Hubbard to serve the students.

And now a national magazine agrees.

The U.S. News and World Report named R.A. Hubbard a bronze medal school in its 2015 list of the best high schools in Alabama.

There were 108 schools that were named on the list. Hubbard earned bronze status because of programs to educate the least-advantaged students, especially those from low-income backgrounds.

"We are a Title I school, so most of our students are low income," R.A. Hubbard counselor Judy Phillips said. "A huge percentage of our kids get reduced or free lunches."

The U.S. News and World Report used a North Carolina-based research firm to evaluate the high schools.

The company looked at overall student performance on state required tests, and required at least one-third of the school's students to perform above the state average.

The company also looked at whether disadvantaged students in a school were outperforming disadvantaged students statewide, and what programs schools used to help those students.

Phillips said the Advanced Placement classes available to students is a big reason why the school received bronze status.

The school offers AP classes in three subjects, which helps students become more college ready and even pick up college credits if they pass the AP exam.

"We have the AP grant which allows us to offer the highest level classes a student can take," Phillips said. "There are a lot of Title I schools with low income students that aren't enrolled in AP classes, and our students are. That's why we stand out so much."

Another program R.A. Hubbard offers is online distance learning program called Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide, or ACCESS.

ACCESS classes are offered by the state on the Internet, and include some courses that R.A. Hubbard doesn't offer at the school.

"It's really moved the students to take online classes, and it's wonderful," Phillips said. "When they go to college and a lot of them have to take online classes, they're going to be ready because they'll have experience with it."

Phillips said between the AP classes and the ACCESS online courses, Hubbard is expanding education beyond what a small school normally could offer.

"You can say R.A. Hubbard is a small school that doesn't have that many offerings, but what I see is between the AP classes and ACCESS, we build a curriculum around the student," Phillips said. "Our students really have to make a commitment to taking the highest-level course in the four core courses. They've got a full load and they are doing very well."

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