Class Struggle: the Challenge Index

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/05/2010

Wanted: Unsung high schools with strong college course programs

Other columnists spend the dark winter months reconnecting with their loved ones before a cozy fire or a richly laden holiday feast. I use that time to fill a spreadsheet with the names of high schools and their ratios of college-level tests to graduating seniors.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  America's Best High Schools, Challenge Index, list moves to, list will include local college exams for the first time, new list for 2011

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 10/20/2010

Students reject their school's high rank

My annual rankings of high schools were mentioned at a Town Meeting of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program recently. Some students said they didn’t like the great reputation I was giving their school.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 10/20/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Challenge Index, H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, H-B students say school's top rank obscures its traditions, call teachers by first name, film "Day After Tomorrow", most school management decisions made by student and staffer vote

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 10/15/2010

High schoolers barred from college-level courses

I expect there will be even more schools next year reaching the America's Best High Schools standard for inclusion than the 1,735 this year. The number has gone up every time I have done the list, beginning with just 243 schools in 1998. But proportionally, that is still quite small. This year's total represented only about 6 percent of all public high schools in the United States.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 10/15/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  America's Best High Schools, Challenge Index, access to AP courses, data show more acceptance of average students in challenging courses, many schools bar students with average GPAs or no teacher recommendations

Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 06/16/2010

How does your high school rank? Check the new Newsweek list

Any public high school that gave at least as many AP, IB or Cambridge tests in 2009 as it had seniors graduating that year qualifies for the 2010 Newsweek list. If your high school meets that criteria and you do not find it listed, email me at

By Jay Mathews  |  11:55 AM ET, 06/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  13 best high school movies, Jay's latest AP piece, latest Newsweek high school rankings, the Challenge Index, why some don't like the list but Jay does

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 02/05/2010

Readers question Challenge Index

Q. The downside not discussed is that from 1989 to 2009, the percentage of AP exams earning a 1 (lowest score) has doubled, from 10% to 20%. Over that same period, the mean score declined from just over 3 to 2.89. This tells me a lot of kids are being pushed into a AP classes for which they aren't ready or motivated.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 02/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Advanced Placement, Challenge Index, Darwin, International Baccalaureate, selective colleges, special education

Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 06/24/2009

Jay on the Web: Is AP the Only Way to Challenge Students?

Every year, Jay Mathews compiles The Challenge Index, a ranking of schools based on a simple formula - the number of AP, IB, and other college-level tests given out at any given high school divided by the total number of...

By Sarah Mimms  |  10:32 AM ET, 06/24/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  AP, The Challenge Index

Posted at 03:19 AM ET, 06/09/2009

New Challenge Index Twist: Catching Up

Newsweek unveils its 2009 America’s Top High Schools list today, all online. About 1,500 schools, the most ever, will be ranked by participation rates on college-level exams, particularly Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge. I invented Newsweek’s and the Washington...

By Washington Post editors  |  03:19 AM ET, 06/09/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Advanced Placement, Challenge Index, International Baccalaureate, school rankings