Northgate High School and East Coweta High School have been ranked again among “America’s Most Challenging High Schools,” in the Washington Post’s 2015 index of the nation’s top secondary schools.
The two Coweta high schools were listed among 2,327 public and private U.S. high schools out of approximately 22,000 public and private high schools surveyed nationally. Both Coweta high schools’ rankings place them in the top 10 percent of the nation’s most challenging high schools surveyed in the index.
According to the Washington Post, only about 11 percent of the nation’s high schools make the annual index, which tracks overall student participation in college-level exams such as Advanced Placement subject tests. 149 Georgia high schools were included on this year’s “Most Challenging” list.
Both Northgate and East Coweta high schools improved their overall performance on the criteria used for the index, meaning that both schools saw increases in the number of Advanced Placement tests taken by students.
Coweta Superintendent Steve Barker noted that community members encouraged the school system to continue expanding Advanced Placement and other advanced-content offerings, during school system strategic planning efforts in recent years.
“Participants expressed a desire for us to provide advanced opportunities for more students,” said Barker. “This recognition by the Washington Post is a result of an intentional effort to meet that request by our stakeholders. It reflects the hard work of our staff members and our students. It also validates our planning process and the importance of getting feedback from our stakeholders.”
Northgate’s ranking on the 2015 list places the school in the top 9 percent of high schools in the survey (with a national ranking of 2083 out of 22,000 schools surveyed).
East Coweta’s ranking on the 2015 list places the school in the top 10 percent of high schools in the survey (with a national ranking of 1,954 out of 22,000 schools surveyed)
It was the fourth year since 2012 that Northgate High made the list, and the third year since 2012 for East Coweta High. A complete list of this year’s “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” can be found at apps.washingtonpost.com/local/highschoolchallenge/schools/2015/list/national/.
“I’m proud of our students,” said Northgate High School Principal Bill Harrison, “and I am proud of our staff for their concentrated efforts to continue improving the level of education at Northgate.”
East Coweta’s overall ranking on the list increased this year, even as the number of schools appearing on the list increased.
“I think this shows we have a strong Advanced Placement program, dedicated teachers, and students who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves,” said East Coweta Principal Evan Horton. “I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.”
Previously known as Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best High Schools” feature, the list ranks schools by the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school during the 2014 school year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated in the spring of that year. A score greater than “1.00” on the survey means that a high school had as many tests in 2014 as they had graduates.
Successful completion of college-level material – such as Advanced Placement classes and subject exams – often earns students college credit, and participation tends to improve student performance in college.
Both Coweta high schools encourage students to take Advanced Placement classes and the rigorous AP exams, employ pre-registration showcases of advanced classes, and use student and teacher mentors to encourage advanced-course participation and successful completion. Both Northgate and East Coweta have seen steady increases in AP class and subject test participation over several years.
“Our staff has worked really hard to create an AP program that everyone wants to be a part of,” said Horton.