The Catching Up Schools

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. 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. Maya Angelou Shaw Campus (2%) D.C. charter 80% 3.769
2. Maya Angelou Evans Campus (3.8%) D.C. charter 80% 3.038
3. Friendship Collegiate** (4%) D.C. charter 70% 2.661
4. SEED (8%) D.C. charter 76% 2.450
5. Crossland (2.3%) Prince George's 41% 2.039
6. Surrattsville (6%) Prince George's 29% 1.246
7. Gwynn Park (5%) Prince George's 23% 1.138
8. Cardozo (3.9%) D.C. 68% 0.955
9. Wash. Math Science Tech (1%) D.C. charter 100% 0.866
10. Bladensburg (7%) Prince George's 57% 0.843
11. Potomac (3%) Prince George's 45% 0.840
12. Friendly (2%) Prince George's 32% 0.694
13. Forestville (6%) Prince George's 46% 0.683
14. Fairmont Heights (6%) Prince George's 54% 0.621
15. Largo (6%) Prince George's 32% 0.606
16. Hyde (4%) D.C. charter 70% 0.545
17. Cesar Chavez-Parkside (1%) D.C. charter 82% 0.393
18. Coolidge (5%) D.C. 64% 0.388
19. Ballou (0%) D.C. 83% 0.252
20. Spingarn (0%) D.C. 77% 0.200
21. H.D. Woodson (0%) D.C. 72% 0.196
22. Dunbar (0%) D.C. 71% 0.123
23. Eastern (0%) D.C. 75% 0.054
22. Anacostia (0%) D.C. 71% 0.000

**Rating includes community college tests, but passing rate is only for AP

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