Newsweek Ranks 5 MCPS High Schools in Nation's Top 100

May 20, 2007
Four in Top 70 is more than any Other Washington Area District

All 23 Eligible High Schools Named in the Top 3 Percent in the Nation

ROCKVILLE, MD -- For the fourth consecutive year, Newsweek magazine has ranked five Montgomery County public high schools in the top 100 high schools in the nation. Four schools appear in the top 70--the most of any Washington-area school district--and all of the county eligible schools are counted among the top 3 percent in the country, according to the Newsweek list released Sunday.

The five high schools and their rankings are:

#25 Richard Montgomery
#44 Bethesda-Chevy Chase
#61 Thomas Wootton
#70 Walt Whitman
#97 Winston Churchill

The Newsweek rankings highlight the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) reform efforts over the last seven years to encourage more high school students from every background to take challenging Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. With the guidance of the Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast opened up these rigorous programs to all students because they equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in college and the world of work. As a result, more MCPS high school students than ever before are taking and succeeding in AP and IB, and far outperforming the national average on the rigorous exams that accompany the courses.

Newsweek uses the "Challenge Index", which has been featured for the past several years in The Washington Post, as a way to measure the rigor of a high school academic program. The index, developed by Jay Mathews, is derived from the number of AP or IB tests taken by all students at a school divided by the number of graduating seniors.

"Our staff, parents and students should be extremely proud of their success as recognized by Newsweek for the fourth year in a row," said Weast. "These rankings are a testament to the outstanding teaching and learning that goes on in our high schools each and every day. AP and IB are the gold standard in high school education because they prepare students for success in college and beyond. I'm proud that we have more students than ever before excelling in these rigorous classes."

"The Board of Education has worked closely with Dr. Weast to create a school system to truly prepare every child with a world-class education. These Newsweek rankings demonstrate that our high schools are making excellent progress toward our goal of helping every child succeed," said Montgomery County Board of Education President Nancy Navarro.

Since 2000, MCPS has undertaken significant reforms to strengthen the school system and increase academic achievement for all students. The reforms are predicated upon hiring and training high-quality teachers, reducing class sizes, and offering students a rigorous and challenging curriculum. The reforms have focused on increasing academic success for all students and closing the achievement gap.

Student performance indicates MCPS is making excellent progress in raising achievement and closing the gap in several areas. Consider these statistics:

* 45 percent of the Class of 2006 scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam¡Xmore than triple the national average and double the Maryland average
* 56 percent of the Class of 2006 took at least one AP exam during high school, more than double the national average of 24 percent

* 16 percent of African American students and 33 percent of Hispanic students in the Class of 2006 scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, topping the national average of 15 percent for all students

* About 70 percent (30,430 students) of the Class of 2006 enrolled in at least one Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) class during high school

* Half of African American students (51 percent) and nearly half of Hispanic students (49 percent) in the Class of 2006 enrolled in at least one Honors or AP course

* Record number of students¡X224¡Xnamed National AP Scholars by The College Board

* 88 percent of kindergartners in spring 2006 met or exceeded reading targets, compared with 39 percent in 2001
* A record 4,506 fifth grade students (46 percent of the class) took advanced math in 2006, compared with just 196 students (2 percent of the class) five years ago

* 49.4 percent of Grade 8 students in 2006 completed Algebra 1, compared with the national average of just 25 percent

* 32 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Newsweek's Rankings of Montgomery County Schools Among the Top U.S. High Schools:

Rank       High School

#25 Richard Montgomery

#44 Bethesda-Chevy Chase

#61 Thomas Wootton

#70 Walt Whitman

#97 Winston Churchill

#115 Walter Johnson

#164 Springbrook

#216 Montgomery Blair

#218 Watkins Mill

#227 Albert Einstein

#253 Rockville

#338 Poolesville

#438 Quince Orchard

#488 Paint Branch

#499 Col. Zadok Magruder

#502 Sherwood

#516 Wheaton

#579 Gaithersburg

#703 John F. Kennedy

#785 Northwest

#790 James Hubert Blake

#840 Seneca Valley

#870 Damascus

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