The 2004 Challenge Index

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 that admit more than half their students based on examinations and grades are not included, although a few private schools are rated at the end of the list for comparison. The rating is not a measurement of the overall quality of the school but illuminates one factor that many educators and researchers consider important.

Compared with schools across the country, Washington-area schools are overall among the most encouraging of AP and IB testing. In the list below, any school with a rating of 1.000 or above is in the top 5 percent of all U.S. high schools in encouraging students to take AP or IB tests. 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 might affect student interest in college-level courses. The number of such applicants usually understates the portion of poor children in a given high school.
Challenge Index: Complete Coverage

Rank School District % Lunch Subsidy Rating
1 H-B Woodlawn Arlington 14% 5.748
2 Richard Montgomery* Montgomery 13% 5.029
3 Wootton** Montgomery 2% 4.578
4 George Mason* Falls Church 12% 4.098
5 Bethesda-Chevy Chase* Montgomery 11% 3.874
6 W.T. Woodson Fairfax 6% 3.748
7 Washington-Lee* Arlington 32% 3.491
8 Banneker* D.C. 27% 3.432
9 Langley Fairfax 1% 3.334
10 Yorktown Arlington 16% 3.286
11 Churchill Montgomery 2% 3.048
12 Walter Johnson Montgomery 4% 2.951
13 Robinson* Fairfax 8% 2.904
14 Clarke County* Clarke 12% 2.877
15 Chantilly Fairfax 11% 2.846
16 Madison Fairfax 7% 2.772
17 Oakton Fairfax 10% 2.763
18 Whitman Montgomery 2% 2.688
19 Lake Braddock Fairfax 11% 2.687
20 Westfield Fairfax 11% 2.583
21 McLean Fairfax 7% 2.578
22 West Springfield Fairfax 9% 2.520
23 Centreville Fairfax 15% 2.499
24 Montgomery Blair Montgomery 22% 2.488
25 Herndon Fairfax 20% 2.397
26 Springbrook* Montgomery 21% 2.391
27 Broadneck Anne Arundel 8% 2.352
28 Centennial Howard 2% 2.334
29 Marshall* Fairfax 17% 2.324
30 Fairfax Fairfax 19% 2.299
31 Hayfield Fairfax 17% 2.193
32 Wakefield Arlington 50% 2.090
33 Stone Charles 14% 2.075
34 Loudoun Valley Loudoun 4% 2.026
35 Rockville Montgomery 18% 2.005
36 Falls Church Fairfax 37% 1.992
37 Quince Orchard Montgomery 10% 1.917
38 Wilson D.C. 31% 1.908
39 Einstein Montgomery 25% 1.904
40 Loudoun County Loudoun 12% 1.868
41 Severna Park Anne Arundel 5% 1.864
42 Stonewall Jackson* Prince William 16% 1.849
43 Blake Montgomery 9% 1.823
44 Stuart* Fairfax 53% 1.802
45 Southern Anne Arundel 15% 1.792
46 South Lakes* Fairfax 28% 1.775
47 South River Anne Arundel 1% 1.762
48 Stone Bridge Loudoun 5% 1.759
49 Magruder Montgomery 12% 1.746
50 River Hill Howard 1% 1.745
51 West Potomac Fairfax 35% 1.741
52 Middletown Frederick 4% 1.727
53 Paint Branch Montgomery 13% 1.723
54 Broad Run Loudoun 8% 1.713
55 Massaponax Spotsylvania 7% 1.689
56 Sherwood Montgomery 8% 1.672
57 Northwest Montgomery 8% 1.665
58 Potomac Falls Loudoun 9% 1.592
59 Wheaton Montgomery 38% 1.574
60 Annandale* Fairfax 39% 1.540
61 Osbourn Park Prince William 9% 1.528
62 Park View Loudoun 23% 1.523
63 Lee* Fairfax 29% 1.506
64 Poolesville Montgomery 4% 1.503
65 Annapolis Anne Arundel 36% 1.498
66 McDonough Charles 12% 1.496
67 Brentsville** Prince William 3% 1.443
68 Wash. Math Sci. Tech D.C. 80% 1.443
69 Gov. Thomas Johnson Frederick 11% 1.442
70 Gar-Field* Prince William 22% 1.429
71 Urbana Frederick 8% 1.422
72 School Without Walls** D.C. 11% 1.412
73 Damascus Montgomery 4% 1.407
74 Gaithersburg** Montgomery 16% 1.394
75 Kennedy Montgomery 26% 1.381
76 Walkersville Frederick 7% 1.378
77 Potomac** Prince William 26% 1.352
78 Edison* Fairfax 30% 1.324
79 Watkins Mill Montgomery 15% 1.319
80 Seneca Valley Montgomery 14% 1.304
81 Mt. Vernon* Fairfax 36% 1.290
82 Eleanor Roosevelt Prince George's 19% 1.289
83 Patuxent Calvert 12% 1.275
84 Hylton Prince William 15% 1.260
85 Chesapeake Anne Arundel 13% 1.243
86 Courtland Spotsylvania 6% 1.238
87 Leonardtown St. Mary's 12% 1.237
88 Osbourn Manassas 13% 1.232
89 Great Mills St. Mary's 22% 1.227
90 Woodbridge Prince William 20% 1.199
91 Old Mill Anne Arundel 21% 1.187
92 Westlake Charles 8% 1.149
93 Manassas Park** Manassas Park 21% 1.143
94 Fauquier Fauquier 9% 1.105
95 Frederick Frederick 16% 1.105
96 Monroe Fredericksburg 30% 1.092
97 La Plata Charles 14% 1.031
98 Forest Park Prince William 12% 1.020
99 Mount Hebron Howard 4% 1.015
100 Colonial Forge Stafford 5% 1.008
101 Wilde Lake Howard 13% 0.994
102 Meade Anne Arundel 29% 0.987
103 Cardozo D.C. 79% 0.977
104 T.C. Williams Alexandria 40% 0.949
105 Chancellor Spotsylvania 11% 0.944
106 Ellington D.C. 36% 0.917
107 Linganore Frederick 5% 0.904
108 Glenelg Howard 1% 0.892
109 Stafford Stafford 10% 0.870
110 Northern Calvert 6% 0.860
111 Northeast Anne Arundel 12% 0.852
112 Parkdale* Prince George's 53% 0.846
113 Hammond Howard 6% 0.816
114 Chopticon St. Mary's 8% 0.803
115 Catoctin Frederick 12% 0.795
116 Atholton Howard 4% 0.792
117 Bell Multicultural D.C. 96% 0.790
118 Potomac Prince George's 47% 0.789
119 Lackey Charles 20% 0.784
120 Liberty Fauquier 14% 0.776
121 Liberty Carroll 2% 0.763
122 Northwestern Prince George's 53% 0.744
123 Glen Burnie Anne Arundel 28% 0.704
124 High Point Prince George's 49% 0.700
125 Laurel* Prince George's 25% 0.663
126 Oakland Mills Howard 12% 0.659
127 Century Carroll 4% 0.648
128 South Carroll Carroll 4% 0.636
129 Arundel Anne Arundel 11% 0.631
130 Spotsylvania Spotsylvania 10% 0.618
131 Howard Howard 5% 0.617
132 Frederick Douglass Prince George's 16% 0.604
133 Brooke Point Stafford 10% 0.602
134 North Stafford Stafford 6% 0.585
135 Flowers Prince George's 72% 0.578
136 Bowie Prince George's 15% 0.573
137 Central* Prince George's 42% 0.517
138 North County Anne Arundel 18% 0.500
139 Calvert Calvert 8% 0.493
140 Suitland* Prince George's 34% 0.428
141 Oxon Hill Prince George's 23% 0.427
142 Westminster Carroll 5% 0.418
143 Long Reach Howard 10% 0.394
144 Surrattsville Prince George's 15% 0.385
145 Brunswick Frederick 10% 0.367
146 Friendly Prince George's 18% 0.319
147 Largo Prince George's 20% 0.318
148 Bladensburg Prince George's 41% 0.309
149 North Carroll Carroll 5% 0.296
150 Key Carroll 14% 0.285
151 H.D. Woodson D.C. 87% 0.260
152 Roosevelt D.C. 49% 0.187
153 Forestville Prince George's 42% 0.181
154 Eastern D.C. 77% 0.177
155 Dunbar D.C. 77% 0.165
156 Gwynn Park Prince George's 12% 0.164
157 Crossland Prince George's 34% 0.160
158 Fairmont Heights Prince George's 37% 0.152
159 Anacostia D.C. 98% 0.120
160 Ballou D.C. 90% 0.098
161 Coolidge D.C. 82% 0.094
162 Spingarn D.C. 62% 0.078
163 DuVal Prince George's 32% 0.072

*Includes IB tests.
**Includes community college or other types of college-level courses.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, with a rating of 7.142, was not ranked because more than half its students are admitted on the basis of grades and test scores. The index is designed to show which schools are challenging average students and does not work well with schools such as Jefferson that have no average students.

Dominion and Heritage in Loudoun County, Reservoir in Howard County, Tuscarora in Frederick County, Northwood in Montgomery County and Winters Mill in Carroll County were not included because they are new schools and did not have full senior classes graduating this year.

Ratings for a sampling of private schools:

School Location Rating
Bishop O'Connell Arlington 2.105
New School of No. Virginia Fairfax 1.636
Our Lady of Good Counsel Wheaton 2.394
St. Anselm's Abbey D.C. 7.382
St. Mary's Ryken Leonardtown 1.007
Heights Potomac 4.565
Elizabeth Seton Bladensburg 1.000

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