The 2008 Challenge Index -- the Catching Up Schools

In the Washington area and some 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. Each school is ranked as usual by its Challenge Index rating, the ratio of AP tests to graduating seniors. The list gives the name of the school district and the percentage of students who qualify for federal lunch subsidies, a rough measure of the level of poverty. In the parenthesis after the school's name is the passing rate on all AP exams taken at the school.


School Pass AP District % Lunch Subsidy Challenge Rating
1. Coolidge 2% D.C. 67% 5.474
2. Bell Multicultural 8% D.C. 81% 3.708
3. Friendship Collegiate 1.2% D.C. charter 67% 2.484
4. Crossland 3% Prince George's 42% 1.304
5. Thurgood Marshall 2% D.C. charter 70% 1.089
6. McKinley Tech 5% D.C. 53% 1.077
7. Cardozo 8% D.C. 66% 0.971
8. Surrattsville 3% Prince George's 26% 0.957
9. Gwynn Park 6% Prince George's 20% 0.838
10. Potomac 2% Prince George's 42% 0.773
11. Bladensburg 8% Prince George's 50% 0.733
12. Wash. Math Science Tech 4% D.C. charter 80% 0.551
13. Forestville 7% Prince George's 47% 0.503
14. Fairmont Heights 7% Prince George's 52% 0.500
15. Largo 4% Prince George's 36% 0.462
16. H.D. Woodson 0% D.C. 62% 0.454
17. Friendly 4% Prince George's 30% 0.453
18. Hyde 0% D.C. charter 85% 0.333
19. Dunbar 0% D.C. 54% 0.293
20. Anacostia 3% D.C. 68% 0.229
21. Eastern 0% D.C. 63% 0.152
22. Spingarn 0% D.C. 79% 0.113
23. Ballou 0% D.C. 90% 0.000

*Includes IB tests.
**Includes Cambridge, community college or other types of college-level final exams.

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