Recently, the Washington Post released the results of its annual Challenge Index rankings that looks at college-level tests given at a high school and the number of graduates that year. This year, the number of charter schools ranked in the top 100 reached an all-time high. Thirty-one public charter schools are among the 2013-2014 Challenge Index top 100 schools. Charter schools also make up half of the top ten—including #1, American Indian Public Charter (Oakland, CA); #2, Uplift Education North Hills Preparatory (Irving, TX); #3, Corbett Charter (Corbett, OR); #6, Signature (Evansville, IN); and #10, BASIS Tucson North (Tucson, AZ).
The Challenge Index is calculated by dividing the number of college-level tests given at a school in 2013, by the number of graduates that year (education columnist Jay Mathews answers Challenge Index FAQs here). The Index also notes the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.
Public charter schools have consistently grown among the top 100 of the Challenge Index. Over the past four years, charter schools have comprised:
- 2013-2014: 31 of the top 100
- 2012-2013: 28 of the top 100
- 2011-2012: 25 of the top 100
- 2010-2011: 17 of the top 100
Public charter schools are over-represented on this ranking list compared to the percentage of charter high schools within the U.S. public high school system (only about 6 percent of all public schools). Congratulations to these public charter schools being recognized for providing a rigorous academic experience for their students.
Nora Kern is senior manager of research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.