Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com May 23, 2011 at 6:00 am 2,691 10 Comments

APS High Schools Ranked in Top One Percent — Arlington’s public high schools each ranked in the top one percent of the Washington Post’s national Challenge Index rankings. H-B Woodlawn ranked the highest at #46, and was #1 among Washington area high schools. Wakefield was at the bottom of the pack at #367 nationally and #50 locally. The Challenge Index measures the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge tests taken by all students at a high school in 2010. [Arlington Public Schools]

Lopez Attracts Local Political Support — House of Delegates 49th District candidate Alfonso Lopez has named County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman and County Sheriff Beth Arthur as co-chairs of his campaign. Lopez will face Stephanie Dix Clifford in the August 23 Democratic primary. [Sun Gazette]

Bike to Work Day Recap — Photos, video and write-ups from Arlington’s Bike to Work Day event in Rosslyn on Friday. [Ode Street Tribune, Patch, Commuter Page Blog]

  • That looks like a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish that dog is about to get. Doesn’t it?

    • Tabby

      It does.

      • If someone adopted that dog that day the first then they likely had to deal with is a case of the runs.

  • Thomas

    From the linked site:

    “The Washington Post’s announced its annual Challenge Index rankings of the nation’s top high schools today…”

    So, the author of the press release went to Wakefield, then?

    • Mike

      “So, the author of the press release went to Wakefield, then?”

      Don’t confuse AP participation with performance. The Challenge Index is a better indicator of how many years of college the parents had than it is of how good the school is.

      HB has an insanely self-selecting group dominated by whites and asians. Wakefield has a huge percentage of minorities and immigrants (check the free and reduced lunch stats). Even with that distinction, as of a couple of years ago both schools had similar AP test pass rates (3 or better– arguably a better measure of value added by the institution). Swap the populations, and I’d guarantee the Challenge Index statistics would also swap.

      • Murphy’s Law

        Mike — interesting take on the Challenge Index. Do you happen to have a link to AP test pass rates in Arlington?

        The Challenge Index includes the Equity and Excellence rate, which is the percentage of all seniors who have passed at least one test (AP, IB or Cambridge), but that doesn’t actually tell us what the pass rate is for each test. I’m guessing that, as you suggest, the pass rates aren’t very high at any of the APS high schools.

  • Murphy’s Law

    Thank CourthouseMom!

    It turns out that there are large differences among APS high schools, and that most kids do pass. The pass rate last year for AP tests ranged from a high of 75% at Yorktown to a low of 53% at Washington-Lee. HB had an edge over Wakefield last year (69% versus 58%), but the year before, HB and Wakefield were almost even (61% versus 60%).

    • Mike

      And don’t be misled by the Washington-Lee scores– they’re an IB school, so that skews the statistics somewhat. You’re basically taking students who would be taking AP (and presumably doing reasonably well) and removing them from the AP population (and presumably lowering the pass rates).

      Bottom line: the Challenge Index is an interesting metric and little more. If you have two schools with identical demographics, it might allow you to determine which school encourages advanced courses more. My frustration is with Arlingtonians who claim that it shows that HB is the county’s best school. The AP pass rates seem to call that contention into question.

      • John Snyder

        What this means is that every Arlington high school has high expectations, opportunity for students to take challenging classes, good preparation in the classes (with solid pass rates) and good foundation from the elementary and middle schools. It also means the students work really really hard. The differences among the Arlington schools mean little, for the reasons you cite. The differences with other jurisdictions are huge.

        Regarding HBWoodlawn, it demonstrates that if a group of students likely to take AP classes gathers in one place, they are likely to take a lot of AP classes. It is a wonderful program, but not because of AP participation, which the students would do at their home schools anyway. The program’s impact can’t be measured with standardized tests, and those seeking success on standardized tests are missing the point of HB Woodlawn.


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