Twenty public high schools in Montgomery County have been recognized by Newsweek
magazine as among the best in America for offering a rigorous instructional program, marked by the high number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests. Just three years ago, prior to the impact of significant academic reforms in the county, only six schools would have made such a list.
In fact, when Newsweek
published a list of the top 100 high schools in March 2000, only one school from Montgomery County was included. This week, the magazine identified five schools from the county among its top 100, with two among the top 50.
The magazine's complete list of the top 737 schools nationally included 20 of the county's 23 high schools and represents the majority of the 34 identified from throughout Maryland. The magazine said the schools represent the top 4 percent of the 14,000 high schools surveyed and have the "strongest AP or IB programs in the country."
The rapid improvement among Montgomery County's high school instructional program is a reflection of the comprehensive reforms undertaken since the 1999-2000 school year, with greater rigor being emphasized in both the high schools and middle schools. The alignment of the entire academic program from kindergarten through Grade 12 is a major part of efforts designed to give more students the opportunity to participate in more challenging course work.
High schools have strengthened their academic programs, offering expanded courses, greater counseling, more aggressive outreach, and comprehensive instructional support and encouragement for students. For example, the use of the PSAT in Grade 10 as a predictor assessment to identify students capable of higher-level studies is now used in all high schools.
The investment has produced a significant increase in the number of students taking honors or Advanced Placement courses. Last year, for example, 67 percent of all high school students took at least one such course, compared to 56 percent in 2000.
used the "Challenge Index," which has been featured for the past several years in The Washington Post
, as a way of measuring the relative merits of AP and IB tests taken by students. The index is derived from the number of AP or IB tests taken by all students at a school in 2002 divided by the number of graduating seniors.
The following school rankings are from the list, which can be accessed at the link below (or from the main article at the second link).
Rank / School Name / Score
37 . Richard Montgomery* 2.969
45 . Walter Johnson 2.848
61 . Wootton 2.699
74 . Churchill 2.557
83 . Whitman 2.450
190 . Bethesda-Chevy Chase* 1.922
253 . Poolesville 1.717
265 . Springbrook* 1.680
281 . Montgomery Blair 1.631
339 . Paint Branch 1.507
352 . Sherwood 1.487
381 . Kennedy 1.428
420 . Magruder 1.374
423 . Quince Orchard 1.372
451 . Northwest 1.337
469 . Gaithersburg 1.309
521 . Rockville 1.257
537 . Damascus 1.236
592 . Blake 1.160
719 . Watkins Mill 1.016
* gives International Baccalaureate tests