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Posted at 08:12 PM ET, 05/25/2011

Catching up on national high school ranks

We did not have room for everything I wanted to include in the big package of lists and stories that make up the new Challenge Index rankings of America’s high schools. I moved the list this year from Newsweek--where we often called it “America’s Best High Schools”-- to washingtonpost.com, where its new title is “The High School Challenge.”

My editors were right not to jam in too much material. It is not always easy to find the features that are there. Please consider this a short guide to finding the inside stuff that many readers of this blog crave and that will give them more ammo to fire at me. I also provide below the Catching Up list of local schools with low Advanced Placement passing rates, something my editors and I agreed would work better on my blog.

Use this link to get to the main ranked lists, one for national and one for the Washington area. This link will take you to the Public Elites list, the schools that did not make the main lists because they were too selective. Here is the link to the full unabridged Frequently Asked Questions, which I made into a blog post. And here is the national Catching-up list.

If you use this link to find my long column explaining why I think the Challenge Index is important and useful, you will discover if you scroll down a bit a list of nearly everything else in the package, with links. And you will also find lots of back and forth between me and commenters on my column. Many wise thoughts were posted, for my point of view and against it.

Here, finally, is the local Catching Up Schools list, with introduction. Any questions? Just post them as comments here or email me at mathewsj@washpost.com.

Local Catching Up list:

In the Washington area and other parts of the country, AP programs have evolved in an unusual way in some high schools with large numbers of impoverished students. Educators at these schools have concluded that although few of their students are likely to achieve passing scores on the three-hour college-level AP exams, many would benefit from taking AP courses and tests that acquaint them with college standards and help them build academic muscle for college, even if they do not score high enough to earn college credit. Once students are involved in AP, they say, teachers can help them catch up to the AP standard, through improved instruction and more challenging programs in lower grades.

This approach to AP is so different from most high schools that it requires a separate list for those schools where less than 10 percent of AP tests earn passing scores. Schools on this list do not appear on the national Challenge Index list until their AP passing rates get to 10 percent or above, and their test participation rating to 1.000 or above.

Each Washington area school is ranked as usual by its Challenge Index rating. That is the four-digit number at the very end of the line for each school. It is the ratio of AP tests to graduating seniors.

In parenthesis next to the name of each school is the percentage of AP tests that received passing grades, 3 or above, in 2010. That is followed by the name its school district, its percentage of low-income students and its Challenge Index rating.

1. Columbia Heights (7%) D.C. 84% 4.781

2. Crossland (3%) Prince George’s 48% 1.872

3. Surrattsville (3%) Prince George’s 32% 1.652

4. Hyde (0%) D.C. charter 77% 1.633

5. McKinley Tech (5%) D.C. 45% 1.332

6. IDEA (0%) D.C. charter 86% 1.324

7. Friendly (5%) Prince George’s 35% 1.220

8. Hospitality (3%) D.C. charter 90% 1.143

9. Gwynn Park (8%) Prince George’s 26% 0.971

10. Wash. Math Science Tech (6%) D.C. charter 100% 0.933

11. Spingarn (2%) D.C. 77% 0.699

12. Potomac (2%) Prince George’s 56% 0.541

13. Roosevelt (3%) D.C. 67% 0.500

14. Eastern (3%) D.C. 75% 0.470

15. Coolidge (2%) D.C. 64% 0.357

16. Ballou (4%) D.C. 83% 0.313

17. H.D. Woodson (3%) D.C. 72% 0.273

18. Anacostia (0%) D.C. 71% 0.202

19. Dunbar (0%) D.C. 71% 0.000

By  |  08:12 PM ET, 05/25/2011

 
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