Newsweek Ranks Four MCPS High Schools in the Top 100 in the Nation

June 9, 2009
All 23 Eligible High Schools Included in the Top 3.5 Percent in the Nation

Newsweek magazine has ranked four Montgomery County public high schools in the top 100 high schools in the nation. All of the county's eligible schools are counted among the top 3.5 percent in the country, according to the Newsweek list released on the Internet today.

The four top high schools and their rankings are:

Richard Montgomery—38
Bethesda-Chevy Chase—55
Thomas S. Wootton—58
Winston Churchill—94

Rounding out the top 110 schools are Walt Whitman—104 and Walter Johnson—109.

"This is an extraordinary accomplishment for our schools and students," said Montgomery County Board of Education President Shirley Brandman. "Again this year, we are seeing the benefits of providing the academic support that allows our students to aim high and achieve at the highest levels."

"MCPS has worked consistently over the past ten years to open the door to academic opportunity for all our students," said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. "We know that our students are capable of a high level of accomplishment if they are given the information and support they need to excel.”

The performance of students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) highlights reform efforts over the last ten years to encourage more high school students from every background to take challenging Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. Participation in these rigorous programs provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in college and the world of work. Here are some highlights of student accomplishments:

-In the MCPS Class of 2008, 61.5 percent of students took at least one AP exam during high school, compared with 37.2 percent and 25 percent, respectively, of public school graduates in Maryland and the nation.

-In the MCPS Class of 2008, 46.4 percent of graduates earned at least one AP score of 3 or higher, a rate that was nearly twice the rate for public school graduates in Maryland (23.4 percent) and more than three times the rate for public school graduates in the nation.

-In the MCPS Class of 2008, the percentage of African American and Hispanic graduates with at least one AP score of 3 or higher was above the national average of 15.2 percent for all graduates.

-A historic high of 25,921 AP exams were taken by MCPS students (all classes) in 2008.

-A record number of MCPS students—283—were named National AP Scholars by The College Board in 2008.

Most recently, MCPS has identified a pathway of academic milestones, the Seven Keys to College Readiness, that increases the likelihood of a student being well prepared for college and earning a degree. Key 6 is a score of 3 on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam or 4 on an International Baccalaureate (IB) exam. MCPS students are encouraged to take the AP and IB exams that are offered at the end of these courses.

The Seven Keys are based on MCPS research, which identified key data points in a student’s school career that have been proven to be reliable predictors of whether a student will be fully ready for college-level work. It also emphasizes a wide variety of national research that consistently indicates that the rigor of a student’s high school curriculum is one of the prime factors in predicting whether a college freshman will go on to complete a bachelor’s degree. More information on the Seven Key is at the link below.


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.

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

High School and 2009 Rank
Richard Montgomery -- 38
Bethesda-Chevy Chase -- 55
Thomas Wootton -- 58
Winston Churchill -- 94
Walt Whitman -- 104
Walter Johnson -- 109
Rockville -- 209
Montgomery Blair -- 287
Quince Orchard -- 294
Albert Einstein -- 295
Poolesville -- 305
Springbrook -- 324
Paint Branch -- 332
James Hubert Blake -- 381
Watkins Mill -- 391
Sherwood -- 393
Col. Zadok Magruder -- 479
Northwest -- 502
Damascus -- 577
John F. Kennedy -- 616
Wheaton -- 657
Seneca Valley -- 674
Gaithersburg -- 847

* The rankings are based on the Challenge Index. This list excludes Northwood High School and Clarksburg High School because they are considered new and developing schools by the Challenge Index author.

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