The Challenge Index

Updated October 25, 2006; based on 2005 data

The Washington Post Challenge Index measures a public high school's effort to challenge its students. The formula is simple: Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college level tests a school gave by the number of seniors who graduated in June. Tests taken by all students, not just seniors, are counted. Washington-area magnet schools with SAT combined verbal and math averages higher than 1300, the highest non-magnet school average in the country, are not included, since they do not have enough average students who need a challenge.

The rating is not a measurement of the overall quality of the school but illuminates one factor that many educators consider important.

Also listed is the name of the school district and the percentage of a school's students whose family incomes are low enough to qualify for federally subsidized lunches and who also apply for that program. The number of subsidized-lunch applicants is a rough indicator of socioeconomic factors that may affect student interest in college-level courses.

Newsweek: What Makes a High School Great?
Jay Mathews: Why AP Matters

Ranked high schools in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been bolded.
* Schools that offer IB tests
** Schools that offer AP and IB tests

«Previous 100 Schools    Next 100 Schools »

Rank School City State Index Equity and Excellence Subsidized Lunches
1 Talented & Gifted Dallas Texas 14.128 100.0 33.0
2 Jefferson County IBS** Irondale Ala. 9.914 50.0 4.0
3 BASIS Charter Tucson Ariz. 9.909 100.0 n/a
4 City Honors** Buffalo N.Y. 8.14 25.0
5 Stanton College Prep** Jacksonville Fla. 7.973 90.4 7.0
6 Eastside** Gainesville Fla. 7.535 48.0 48.0
7 Suncoast Community** Riviera Beach Fla. 7.532 37.0
8 Science/Engineering Magnet Dallas Texas 6.275 78.3 47.0
9 International Academy* Bloomfield Hills Mich. 6.127 0.0
10 Academic Magnet North Charleston S.C. 5.833 100.0 8.4
11 Science Academy of South Texas Mercedes Texas 5.776 62.9 41.5
12 North Hills School** Irving Texas 5.66 26.5 9.0
13 H-B Woodlawn Arlington Va. 5.575 82.7 14.0
14 Eastern Sierra Academy Bridgeport Calif. 5.5 50.0 30.0
15 Richard Montgomery Rockville Md. 5.409 60.2 12.0
16 Myers Park** Charlotte N.C. 5.047 41.3 20.7
17 Classen School of Advanced Studies** Oklahoma City Okla. 4.803 28.0
18 Highland Park Dallas Texas 4.735 70.6 0.0
19 Clarke County Berryville Va. 4.633 69.0 14.0
20 Little Rock Central Little Rock Ark. 4.626 28.6 35.0
21 Hillsborough** Tampa Fla. 4.596 35.1 49.5
22 San Diego High School of International Studies* San Diego Calif. 4.576 47.0
23 John Miller-Great Neck North Great Neck N.Y. 4.533 62.0 9.2
24 Wilson Magnet** Rochester N.Y. 4.522 66.0
25 Atlantic Community** Delray Beach Fla. 4.52 36.7 35.0
26 Lowell San Francisco Calif. 4.462 90.8 31.0
27 Jericho Jericho N.Y. 4.45 98.9 1.5
28 Paxon School for Advanced Studies** Jacksonville Fla. 4.442 68.0 13.0
29 Coral Reef** Miami Fla. 4.401 31.3
30 Lincoln Park** Chicago Ill. 4.338 86.3 50.1
31 Great Neck South Great Neck N.Y. 4.321 70.2 8.9
32 South Side** Rockville Centre N.Y. 4.202 12.0
33 Dreyfoos School of the Arts West Palm Beach Fla. 4.186 69.3 7.0
34 Bethesda-Chevy Chase Bethesda Md. 4.179 69.2 8.0
35 Cold Spring Harbor Cold Spring Harbor N.Y. 4.165 77.1 Less than 1
36 Moreno Valley Angel Fire N.M. 4.154 33.3 10.1
37 Southside** Greenville S.C. 4.136 15.8 53.0
38 Newport Bellevue Wash. 4.067 7.3
39 Pensacola** Pensacola Fla. 4.053 34.4 60.0
40 Martin Luther King Nashville Tenn. 4.049 10.6
41 Metro Academic & Classical** St. Louis Mo. 4.048 31.3
42 George Mason Falls Church Va. 4.045 67.0 8.0
43 Rye Rye N.Y. 4.042 2.6
44 Hume-Fogg Academic Nashville Tenn. 4.031 79.9 9.0
45 Interlake** Bellevue Wash. 3.98 44.3 30.0
46 Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies Los Angeles Calif. 3.964 69.0 34.0
47 Troy** Fullerton Calif. 3.956 59.8 Less than 1
48 Yorktown Arlington Va. 3.926 55.9 16.0
49 Cocoa Beach** Cocoa Beach Fla. 3.924 16.4 10.0
50 Bellevue Bellevue Wash. 3.887 61.9 10.0
51 Mills University Studies Little Rock Ark. 3.886 24.6 44.0
52 Wootton Rockville Md. 3.856 70.1 4.0
53 Washington-Lee Arlington Va. 3.845 47.0 32.0
54 Raleigh Charter Raleigh N.C. 3.837 84.1 0.0
55 Signature School Evansville Ind. 3.833 76.0 9.4
56 Black River Holland Mich. 3.813 35.6 15.1
57 Edgemont Scarsdale N.Y. 3.772 57.6 0.0
58 International School Bellevue Wash. 3.741 34.5 4.5
59 Pittsford Mendon Pittsford N.Y. 3.736 58.1 1.5
60 Enloe** Raleigh N.C. 3.732 54.8 16.4
61 Design & Architecture Miami Fla. 3.728 13.9 42.0
62 Pittsford Sutherland Pittsford N.Y. 3.718 3.0
63 Greeley Chappaqua N.Y. 3.699 1.0
64 St. Petersburg** St. Petersburg Fla. 3.667 23.0
65 Communication Arts San Antonio Texas 3.655 15.0
66 Walnut Hills Cincinnati Ohio 3.635 12.6
67 Harding University** Charlotte N.C. 3.619 28.7 48.9
68 Miami Palmetto Miami Fla. 3.615 11.8
69 Indian Hill Cincinnati Ohio 3.571 65.2 6.0
70 Manhasset Manhasset N.Y. 3.482 62.4 6.0
71 Maritime & Science Tech Miami Fla. 3.473 75.0 28.0
72 Plant Tampa Fla. 3.462 39.9 13.0
73 Grimsley** Greensboro N.C. 3.448 49.5 28.0
73 King** Tampa Fla. 3.448 40.7
75 Masterman Philadelphia Pa. 3.443 n/a
76 Churchill Potomac Md. 3.436 68.2 3.0
77 Fort Myers** Fort Myers Fla. 3.417 28.8 22.0
78 Riverside-Brookfield Riverside Ill. 3.415 52.9 7.2
79 Auburn** Auburn Ala. 3.412 34.9 25.0
80 Lincoln Tallahassee Fla. 3.407 34.4 12.0
80 Gunn Palo Alto Calif. 3.407 5.0
82 Langley McLean Va. 3.399 65.5 1.0
83 Boston Latin Boston Mass. 3.398 71.6 29.0
84 McNair Academic Jersey City N.J. 3.395 60.2 32.0
85 Booker T. Washington** Tulsa Okla. 3.387 31.4 34.0
86 Spruce Creek** Port Orange Fla. 3.386 28.4 12.0
87 McLean McLean Va. 3.377 65.2 6.0
88 Warwick** Newport News Va. 3.354 14.8 38.0
89 YES College Prep Southeast Houston Texas 3.329 62.0 75.0
90 Blind Brook Rye Brook N.Y. 3.325 89.1 0.0
91 Palm Harbor University** Palm Harbor Fla. 3.25 12.1 7.0
92 W. T. Woodson Fairfax Va. 3.233 55.5 5.0
93 South Texas High School for Health Professions Mercedes Texas 3.232 64.9 54.5
94 Brighton Rochester N.Y. 3.226 59.5 6.7
95 North Mecklenburg** Huntersville N.C. 3.212 20.1
96 Briarcliff Briarcliff Manor N.Y. 3.205 54.3 Less than 1
97 Diamond Hill-Jarvis Fort Worth Texas 3.196 79.3
98 Vandermeulen Port Jefferson N.Y. 3.195 2.0
99 Chagrin Falls Chagrin Falls Ohio 3.19 68.6 0.0
100 Centreville Clifton Va. 3.173 44.3 15.0
«Previous 100 Schools    Next 100 Schools »

The formula for Challenge Index: Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college level tests a school gave by the number of seniors who graduated in June. Tests taken by all students, not just seniors, are counted.

Equity and Excellence rate, the percentage of all seniors, including those not in AP, calculated by the College Board to have had at least one score of 3 or above on the 5-point test in high school. This statistic is new, the College Board was not able to provide it to all schools, and some schools count the number of seniors differently than others. An IB or combined AP and IB version of that rating was calculated for some IB schools by school district officials at the Post's request. The average AP Equity and Excellence rate for all U.S. schools is 14.1%.

Ranked high schools in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been bolded.
* Schools that offer IB tests
** Schools that offer AP and IB tests



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