Record Number of Houston Schools Make Nation’s Top 9 Percent

Carnegie Vanguard HS

Carnegie Vanguard High School is one of the national top 100 schools in the Washington Post High School Challenge.

Houston ISD high schools made their strongest showing ever this year in the prestigious Washington Post High School Challenge rankings that were released this week.

The rankings are based on the number of college-level Advanced Placement exams attempted, the number of students passing at least one AP or International Baccalaureate exam, and the percentage of students from low-income families at each campus. Only the nation’s top 9 percent of schools make the rankings. This year, HISD landed 33 high schools on the list, the best showing since 2010 when 25 HISD schools made the cut. Statewide, 146 high schools appeared in the rankings, meaning Houston high schools account for 23 percent of all Texas campuses named in the annual report.

HISD’s strong showing in the Washington Post rankings are the result of a 2009 decision by the Board of Education to boost the number of AP course offerings in all schools, and to waive the AP exam fees for all students in those courses. Since then, the number of AP exams taken by HISD students earning a score high enough to earn college credit has increased 45 percent to 7,106 in 2012.

“Students and teachers in high school classrooms across Houston are proving they are more than capable of rising to meet higher expectations when we give them the tools they need,” Superintendent Terry Grier said. “This is another encouraging sign that our schools are becoming great all over.”

For the second year in a row, HISD earlier this month was named one of just four national finalists for the most prestigious award in public education: The Broad Prize for Urban Education. The Broad Foundation cited HISD’s strong performance on AP exams as one of the many reasons why the district is the only Texas finalist for the prize that comes with a minimum of $150,000 in scholarships for HISD seniors.

Washington Post High School Challenge

Thirty-three HISD high schools earned recognition in the Washington Post High School Challenge, a list of 1,900 schools representing the top 9 percent in the nation when it comes to preparing graduates for college. Only 146 Texas high schools made the list, and HISD campuses – Carnegie Vanguard, Eastwood Academy, High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, and DeBakey High School for Health Professions – represent four of the national top 100.

HISD high schools that made the Washington Post list include (with ranking):

13. Carnegie Vanguard
50. Eastwood Academy
79. High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
99. DeBakey HS for Health Professions
136. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
174. Furr
192. Houston Academy for International Studies
280. Lamar
332. Challenge Early HS
363. Bellaire
427. East Early College
514. Sharpstown
542. Westside
551. North Houston Early College
655. Westbury
736. Scarborough
953. Milby
1,088. Wheatley
1,089. Chavez
1,133. Davis
1,140. Lee
1,155. Jordan
1,200. Sam Houston
1,277. Reagan
1,304. Waltrip
1,333. Washington
1,410. Austin
1,540. Worthing
1,570. Jones
1,581. Kashmere
1,708. Mt. Carmel
1,726. Madison
1,844. Sterling

The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 276 schools and more than 203,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.
For more information, visit the HISD Web site at