Washington and Kennedy Named to Most Challenging High Schools List

April 19, 2016 10:37 AM

Cedar Rapids Washington is the top-ranked Iowa high school and Cedar Rapids Kennedy is the third-ranked Iowa school on The Washington Post's 2016 list of America's Most Challenging High Schools.  Both District high schools have qualified for the list since 2000. 

"We are very proud of the amazing work of Washington students which keeps their school #1 in Iowa on this important list,” said Ralph Plagman, Washington Principal.

“I am thrilled to see Kennedy once again representing Iowa on this list,” added Jason Kline, Kennedy Principal. “With Washington and Kennedy both listed as members of the top 4% of all high schools nationally, it is clear that we are doing things right in Cedar Rapids.”

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 2016 Challenge Index was based on 2015 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.  Cedar Rapids Washington ranks in the top 3% of American public high schools, and Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the top 4%.

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 38.0, and Kennedy's is 46.0.  The average Equity and Excellence rate for U. S. high schools is 21.6.

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