Washington Post Publishes Annual National School Rankings

The Washington Post recently published its National School Rankings based on the Challenge Index that Jay Matthews developed in 1998.  Schools are ranked by taking the number of Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate exams administered at school divided by the number or graduating seniors.  Newsweek releases similar rankings using pretty much the same formula.

Every year, there is much discussion around whether these rankings are meaningful.  Jay explains:

While not a measure of the overall quality of the school, the rating can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college.

Of course challenge is good, but the quality of a school cannot be based solely on challenge.  Many contend that since scores are not used in this system, schools could encourage many unprepared students to take these challenging courses.  Enrolling unprepared students can cause teachers to “water down” the course, diminishing the success rate of  students who are prepared.  Fortunately, the Challenge Index does use the AP/IB exams in the formula.  This is important as these courses culminate in a national exam.  Over time, communities can know whether the courses offered at their school are the real deal based on the school’s pass rate.  If the pass rate is low, perhaps the courses are AP or IB in name only.  If the index used “Honors” classes there would not be the external validation that the national exams offer.

Whether this is a good rating system or not, it clearly favors schools that encourage students to challenge themselves with AP and IB exams.   Total Registration is excited to note that the #1 and #2 schools use our service, as well as many other schools in the list.    We are pleased to serve so many schools that challenge students.  We are proud of the fact that even though this list represents 7% of the nation’s schools, more than 50% of Total Registration’s 230 schools are on this list.  Clearly, schools with large AP and IB programs value the ability to have students register themselves for the exams online through Total Registration.

Schools that wish to simplify the Advanced Placement exam registration process should visit www.TotalRegistration.net to learn more.  In 2011, more than 78,000 students registered themselves online  for over 150,000 AP exams at 230 schools using Total Registration’s service.

One Response to “Washington Post Publishes Annual National School Rankings”

  1. […] The Washington Post adopted the past Newsweek 3-component ranking system, and still lists Corbett’s Schools in the top 20. From the Washington Post’s FAQ page on how the index is ranked: ”… Divide the number of Advanced Placement… tests a school gave… by the number of graduating seniors….” ( Most likely, under pressure, WPost will also revise it’s challenge index to include a calculation of how well the students are actually doing on these tests and in other areas soon as well. ) You can read a better explanation here. […]