DC Area High School Rankings, 2006

Jay Matthews:

The Challenge Index, my system for rating high schools based on college-level test participation, grew from watching a low-income school in East Los Angeles — Garfield High — find ways to challenge average students that most high-income schools never thought of. As The Washington Post unveils its 10th annual Challenge Index rankings of Washington area public schools this week, I want to see how low-income schools in this region are doing.
The Challenge Index rates each school by taking the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests the school gave in 2006 and dividing by the number of seniors who graduated from the school this year. High school educators who have learned, as the teachers at Garfield did, that even average students benefit from AP and IB are more likely to have more students taking those exams and do better on The Post’s list. High school educators who stick with what is still the majority view about AP and IB in America — that the programs are suitable only for top students — do not do so well.
In many cases, the list defies the conventional wisdom that schools with lots of low-income students are bad and schools with few such students are good. That is not to say that most low-income schools do well on the list. Most do not. Many of their teachers and administrators accept the widespread assumption that their students can’t do AP or IB. But the few schools in poor neighborhoods that break out of this mindset are worth studying.

4 thoughts on “DC Area High School Rankings, 2006”

  1. “Cardozo is a national pioneer in introducing AP to very disadvantaged students. It has found ways to build student skills from a very low level so that they can begin to get passing grades on the AP exams. One of its star AP teachers, Frazier O’Leary, has become a frequent speaker around the country.”
    Notice the assumption is that AP and IB programs are the standards to shoot for. Kind of the opposite of what’s going here in Rainwaterland.

  2. Now I’m confused. I hear from so many parents in the MMSD that AP isn’t where it’s at, that more and more universities are shying away from AP credit, etc. Is AP just another “political football” in the current education debate? So far, my impression is that AP is preferable because it is measurable via standards in the classroom and the AP exams. Isn’t that why Alan Harris wants to move towards AP at East?

  3. I have some good familiarity with both H.B. Woodlawn (ranked #1) and Yorktown (#7),as I have 2 nieces who attend or have attended each of those schools. H.B. is ranked first and offers a very creative and exciting curriculum, with challenging opportunities to all students who attend the school. Occasionally, in the Madison area discussions, AP courses are termed “boring” or consisting ONLY of dictated content and methods. There are many examples of where that is not the case and we may want to consider the very positive potential for all students if AP were to be offered more broadly in our district. Let’s capitalize on some grant funds available through DPI and see what could happen with increased offerings here. Marcia

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