Thirty-three of Houston ISD’s 44 high schools are on the prestigious Washington Post’s list of America’s Most Challenging High Schools. The rankings of 2,050 most rigorous high schools nationwide were released this week.
The rankings are based on the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.
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.
HISD high schools that made the Washington Post list include (with ranking):
11. Carnegie Vanguard High School
32. Energized for STEM
51. High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
94. Challenge Early College
123. DeBakey High School for Health Professions
167. Eastwood Academy
180. Lamar High School
185. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
251. Houston Academy for International Studies
253. Bellaire High School
457. Sharpstown High School
506. East Early College
508. Westside High School
538. Sharpstown International
722. Westbury High School
787. Furr High School
843. Reagan High School
885. North Houston Early College
902. Davis High School
912. Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center
918. Chavez High School
1046. Waltrip High School
1155. Lee High School
1255. Washington High School
1534. Mt. Carmel Academy
1627. Jordan High School
1633. Jones High School
1702. Milby High School
1714. Madison High School
1902. Wheatley High School
1946. Kashmere High School
1977. Austin High School
2026. Worthing High School
The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 282 schools and more than 211,000 students.
Ranking schools by the number of AP Exams taken is misleading. It encourages a numbers game and gives no weight to the quality of education received at these institutions. For example Energized for Stem Academy is ranked number 32 and DeBakey HS is ranked number 123. A mother and spouse an educator in Houston ISD this is laughable. DeBakey HS had a 88.6 pass rate in 2012 and a 91.6 in 2013 while Energized had far less students passing (Energized HS SW 0% and 3.5% /Energized HS SE 3% and 1.6%) during this same period.
The difference the inflated numbers for TAKING test at Energized are due to the fact that ALL students MUST take every AP course offered. They MUST also take EVERY AP test. In 2012 seniors at the top of their graduating class refused to take an AP Exam that started late and they felt they were not appropriately prepared for. Although this is their right as per CollegeBoard they were suspended for obstructing the learning process and informed by Lois Bullock (the owner) they could not participate in graduation. Their participation in the graduation ceremony was later rescinded after they were forced to publicly apologize. The actions of Ms. Bullock, in all probability, represent the extreme side of the issue; still ranking schools by the number of test taken only encourage schools to force students to take more tests verse actually educating them.