Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nationally Ranked High Schools in NWA

Three Northwest Arkansas high schools are among the country’s top 1,257 public high schools, according to Newsweek magazine’s latest Best American High Schools list. Bentonville High ranked 566th on the list of the best high schools. Fayetteville High ranked 628th, and Rogers came in at 892. That's out of 27,000 nationally.

The rankings are based on the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge exams administered last spring, divided by the number of graduates at the school. The formula known as the Challenge Index was developed by Jay Matthews, a reporter for The Washington Post and a contributing editor to Newsweek. Only about 5 percent of the nation’s 27,000 public high schools made it onto the Newsweek list.

Little Rock Central, which led all Arkansas schools, offers 33 Advanced Placement courses and is adding a 34th next fall. High school students who take the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and tests can earn college credit for their high school work. In Arkansas, students who take Advanced Placement courses are required to take the end of year Advanced Placement exams, and the state pays for the tests, which cost $80 each.

Most readers will be pleased that our local schools are nationally ranked, but some people will be disappointed. UA Professor Jay P. Greene has made a career out of bashing teachers and public schools, so this will undermine his self-published propaganda campaign for private school vouchers. Debbie Pelley of the Arkansas Family Association, who came to Fayetteville a couple years ago to ban books from the school library, has written extensively that the International Baccalaureate Program is the work of the ole debbil. Both should be expected to tell us soon why these outstanding public schools are no good.

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