Yates was established on February 8, 1926, as Yates Colored High School with 17 teachers and 600 students. The school, at 2610 Elgin, was the second school for African-Americans established in Houston. At the time schools were segregated on the basis of race. Previously Houston had only one secondary school for black people, Colored High School.
The Plano West Jazz Orchestra, directed by Preston Pierce, was named a finalist for the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition in 2017, 2020, 2021, and 2022.    The Jazz Orchestra was the invited high school Jazz Ensemble at the 2016 Texas Music Educators Association Convention.