Rhinebeck High School Named to the Washington Post's 2017 List of "America's Most Challenging High Schools"
For the sixth year in a row, Rhinebeck High School has been named to the Washington Post's list of "America’s Most Challenging High Schools" for 2017. Judged by a set of metrics developed by Jay Matthews, previously the author of Newsweek’s list of “America's Best High Schools,” Rhinebeck High School ranked 1,419th nationally out of 2369 high schools across the nation. RHS came in 72nd out of the 88 New York State high schools that made the list, according to self-reported data for 2014-15. Rhinebeck's Challenge ranking places it in the top 7% of the nation's high schools.
The Washington Post High School Challenge takes the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divides by the number of seniors who graduated in May/June, thus generating what the author calls his Challenge Index. With a few exceptions, public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.000, meaning they had as many tests in 2014-15 as they had graduates, were put on the national list at washingtonpost.com/highschoolchallenge. The High School Challenge then ranks the schools in order of ratio. Rhinebeck High School’s ratio was 1.959.
Matthews has decided not to factor in passing rates on the designated assessments, finding that some high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the courses. In other instances, high schools opened the courses to all, but encouraged only the best students to take the tests. The author contends that 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. His research has found that even low-performing students who got only a 2 on an AP test did significantly better in college than similar students who did not take AP.
This year, only 12 percent of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools managed to reach the Washington Posts’s standard of 1.000 to be placed on the Challenge list. Matthews considers 1.000 a modest standard which he feels a school can reach if only half of its students take one AP, IB or AICE test in their junior year and one in their senior year.
The High School Challenge list also gives readers a sense of how well each school’s students are doing on the tests by posting an “Equity and Excellence” rate. This calculation is the percentage of all graduating seniors, including those who never took an AP course, who had at least one score of 3 or above on at least one AP test sometime in high school, a metric invented by the nonprofit College Board, which oversees the AP program. It found that the average Equity and Excellence rate in 2014 was 21.6 percent. Rhinebeck High School’s Equity and Excellence rate for 2014-15 was 47.0.