Newsweek’s list of America’s Best High Schools — that is, public schools where the highest percentage of students take college-level courses — is out.
Once again the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas leads the list, which is dominated by magnet schools. (Charter schools make up 15 percent of the list, including #16 ranked Preuss UCSD, which claims all students qualify for a subsidized lunch.) However, super-elite schools are excluded, which seems a bit odd.
Jay Mathews, who created the Challenge Index, argues for the importance of AP testing, even at schools where few AP students pass the exam. (If fewer than 10 percent pass, the school is kicked off the “best” list.)
The average U.S. high schooler does less than an hour of homework a night and spends twice as much time watching television. And it shows in their academic achievements. There has been no significant increase in average reading or math achievement for American 17-year-olds in the last three decades. If AP, IB, and other college-level classes can get more of this age group off the sofa and back to their books, it would be a step forward for the country and a good measure of which schools are really serious about academics.