Challenge looks at number of college-level exams per graduate

by: TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - West Linn High School received high praise from the Washington Post newspaper recently.There are many ways to measure up test results.

And when it comes to comparing Oregon’s public high schools, Wilsonville and West Linn both seem to share a lot of time in the spotlight for their students' academic achievements.

The latest recognition comes from the other side of America, as the Washington Post has ranked Wilsonville High fourth and West Linn High fifth among Oregon high schools in a measurement comparing the number of students who are taking college-level examinations.

The Post conducts its High School Challenge annually. Schools are ranked by dividing the number of college-level tests a school offers by the number of graduates in a given year. This results in an overall index score used for rankings. Also noted, the newspaper stated, are the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and the percentage of graduates in a given year that not only took but also passed at least one college-level exam during their high school careers.

With a few exceptions, public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.000, meaning they had as many tests in 2012 as they had graduates, were put on the national list:

“I think 1.000 is a modest standard,” the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews wrote on the Challenge website. “A school can reach that level if only half of its students take one AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate) or AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) test in their junior year and one in their senior year.”

Schools are ranked in order of ratio, with the highest (23.571) achieved by the American Indian Public Charter in Oakland, Calif.

Notably, Corbett Charter School in east Multnomah County received an index score of 17.000, good for fourth in the entire country, while Corbett High School was ninth nationally with an index score of 13.591.

Wilsonville High, meanwhile, earned an index score of 2.039, meaning there were twice as many college-level exams, primarily through the Advanced Placement program offered by the College Board, as there were graduates.

West Linn was right behind with an index score of 1.926. Lincoln High School of Portland was third among Oregon Schools with an index of 2.115, while Lakeridge (1.406) of Lake Oswego was sixth and Southridge (1.296) of Beaverton was seventh.

Challenge administrators even take into account the manner in which different schools offer college-level courses and exams to their students.

This year, that meant such schools had to have an average SAT score below 2000 or an average ACT score below 29.3 to be included on the list.

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