The DeBakey High School for Health Professions is recognized today as one of the strongest college preparatory high schools in Texas. Over the past 44 years, the school has successfully introduced, and when necessary, revised an innovative magnet school model and a rigorous, specialized health and science based pre-college curriculum, which offers direct exposure to careers in medicine and the sciences. Student selection is based upon interest in health sciences, previous academic performance, standardized test scores, conduct and attendance. The DHSHP student body reflects the ethnic diversity of the overall Houston Independent School District student population: 43 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 29 percent Hispanic, 16 percent African-American, and 1 percent Other, with a total minority enrollment of 89 percent. Forty-one percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch status.
In 2015–2016, DHSHP earned the following ratings:
The Texas Education Agency’s 2016 School Report Card rated the campus as having met the accountability standard with seven out of seven distinctions: English Language Arts/Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Top 25 percent Student Progress, Top 25 percent Closing Performance Gaps, and Postsecondary Readiness.
- Children at Risk awarded the DHSHP an A+, ranking it at #1 for Greater Houston Area High Schools, and #2 in the State of Texas.
- Niche awarded the school A+, ranking it at #1 STEM and #3 in the Houston Metro area, #5 STEM and #14 in the State of Texas, and #51 STEM in the nation.
- "U.S. News & World Report" named the school as "Gold," ranking it at #4 in the State of Texas; and #5 Magnet, #9 STEM and #18 in the nation.
Originally known as the High School for Health Professions, the school began operations in 1972, as a partnership between Baylor College of Medicine and the Houston Independent School District. The first school of its kind in the nation, it was designed to increase opportunities for all students to access careers in medicine, science and the health professions. In the fall of 1996, HISD’s Board of Education renamed the middle school to the Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, in honor of the famous physician. DHSHP has grown from 45 students attending classes at Baylor to a current enrollment of 823 students in grades nine through twelve housed in a campus east of the Texas Medical Center.
A new, $65 million dollar building was completed during the 2016–2017 school year. The five-floor, state-of-the-art facility, is designed to house 1,000 students and provide a direct connection to the wealth of educational, clinical and research resources available in the world-renowned Texas Medical Center.
Awards and Recognition
DHSHP attracts students who are dedicated to their studies and who have demonstrated high academic achievement, as evidenced by the numerous state and national awards the school has garnered. The U.S. Department of Education honored the school with an “Outstanding Vocational Education Program Award” (1984), a national “Blue Ribbon School” (1998), “No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School” (2003), and a second “Blue Ribbon School” (2009). The DOE, under the direction of the U.S. Secretary of Education, recognized DHSHP as a “New American High School” (1998).
The school has the distinction of being the only high school in the Houston area to receive the Texas Education Agency’s “Exemplary School Award” for 20 consecutive years. DHSHP also received awards for academic excellence from the Office of the Mayor of Houston (1994, 1995), HISD (1994–1998), and the Texas Governor’s Committee for Educational Excellence’s “Successful Schools Award” (1990, 1991). Independent entities also noted the excellent standards and results of DHSHP. The National Association of Secondary Schools Principals recognized the school as a “Breakthrough High School,” and the International Center of Leadership Education honored it as a “National Model School” (2004).
In recent years, the DHSHP graduating class averaged over $32 million dollars in scholarship offers. To date, 6,163 students have graduated from the school, and more than 99 percent of these students have accessed postsecondary education. A survey of 2,048 graduates from 1975 to 1992 indicated that more than 57 percent of the graduates had achieved career objectives consistent with the purposes of the school (i.e., careers in the health professions, medicine or science).
Today, the school serves as a national model and assists other school districts to establish similar health professions programs. DHSHP has four sister high school campuses in Corpus Christi, Laredo, Mercedes and San Benito. These schools share a common vision and curricular philosophy, and have positively impacted the educational and career access of students from South Texas who are interested in pursuing careers in health and medicine. In 2008, the Supreme Education Council of Qatar requested a replica of DHSHP be established in its capital city, Doha, to provide a U.S. curriculum for their students in order for the students to matriculate into U.S. universities already established there.