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Hoover makes National List of Top Academic High Schools
June 5, 2011By David Bannister of Hoover High School
7 schools in Birmingham area make national list as top programs preparing students for college
Published: Saturday, June 04, 2011, 10:00 AM
A dozen Alabama schools, seven of them in the metro area, have met a Washington Post national challenge of successfully preparing students for college.
Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School as well as Mountain Brook, Homewood, Oak Mountain, Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Spain Park high schools are ranked. Others on the list are Loveless Academic Magnet Program and Booker T. Washington Magnet School in Montgomery; Grissom, Huntsville; Bob Jones, Madison; and Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile.
The Challenge Index was created in 1998 by Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews to determine how committed a school is to preparing an average student for college. The index divides the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education college-level tests given at a specific school by the number of seniors who graduate.
In past years, Mathews looked at Washington-area public high schools. This year, he expanded the index to 1,904 public schools throughout the nation.
"With a few exceptions, public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.000, meaning they had as many tests in 2010 as they had graduates, were put on the national list," Mathews said in his report.
"I think 1.000 is a modest standard. A school can reach that level if only half of its students take one AP, IB or AICE test in their junior year and one in their senior year. But this year, only 7 percent of the approximately 27,000 U.S. public high schools managed to reach that standard and be placed on our list.
"AP, IB and AICE are important because they give average students a chance to experience the trauma of heavy college reading lists and long, analytical college examinations."
Mathews said the list also includes what he called an "Equity and Excellence" rate, the percentage of graduating seniors who never took an AP course. The average E and E rate was 16.9 percent. All 12 of the state schools exceeded the average rate.
The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School scored the best in Alabama with a ratio of 11.7, which means students had the option of taking as many as 11 times the number of tests as it had graduates. The school ranked sixth in the national poll.
Mountain Brook ranked third in the state and 446th nationally with its ratio of 2.6. At fourth place in the state is Homewood with a ratio of 2.4. The school is ranked 555th nationally. Oak Mountain High is fifth in the state and 663rd nationally with a ratio of 2.2.
Rounding out the state schools are Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Spain Park. Hoover, at seventh with a 1.8 ratio, is ranked in the 1005th national spot. Vestavia Hills is 10th with a 1.5 ratio and 1,268th nationally. Spain Park, in 11th place, has a ratio of slightly less than 1.5. It is ranked in the 1,312th national spot.