Cedar Rapids Washington is the top-ranked Iowa high school and Cedar Rapids Kennedy is the second-ranked Iowa school on The Washington Post's 2017 list of America's Most Challenging High Schools. Both District high schools have qualified for the list since 2000.
“While we enjoy this consistent ranking, we know that we must continue finding ways to help students find their talents which fuel their passion,” said Dr. Carlos Grant, Washington Principal. “This ranking helps us celebrate our strong academic culture. We also want to highlight the other college credit earning opportunities that exist through concurrent enrollment courses that are equally high-level instruction based.”
The Washington Post takes the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests given at a school the previous school year and divides by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. The formula is called the Challenge Index. The 2017 Challenge Index was based on 2016 data. The Challenge Index is designed to identify schools that have done the best job in persuading average-performing students to take college-level courses and tests. About 10% of the 22,000 U.S. public high schools are on the list of America's Most Challenging High Schools. Both Washington and Kennedy high schools rank in the top 3% of American public high schools.
The Washington Post list also reports each high school's Equity and Excellence rate which is the percentage of all graduating seniors, including those who never took an AP course, who had at least one passing score (3 or higher on a scale from 1 to 5) on at least one AP test sometime during their high school career. Washington's Equity and Excellence rate is 36.6, and Kennedy's is 46.
“We continue to be proud of our high schools and look forward to defining additional ways in which we demonstrate their ongoing success,” noted Dr. Brad Buck, Superintendent.
You can find the complete listing of Most Challenging High Schools here.