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University of Iowa News Release

June 12, 2006

Index Identifies Top Iowa Schools For Advanced Placement Participation

An index developed by the University of Iowa's gifted education program to determine which of the state's high schools are doing the best job of encouraging the use of Advanced Placement exams has given a small, private high school in Bettendorf the No. 1 spot for 2006.

The annual "Iowa AP Index for the Top 25 Schools," created last year by the UI College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, gave Rivermont Collegiate High School top billing based on 2005 exam data. Although the school graduated just 14 seniors last year, it administered 47 AP exams, giving it an index of 3.36.

Rivermont is Iowa's only independent, non-sectarian, private college preparatory school for students in grades preschool through 12.

To arrive at the index, the Belin-Blank Center divides the number of AP exams taken by its students (of any grade) by the number of graduating seniors. This year's ranking is based on the AP exams taken in May 2005 and seniors graduating in May or June 2005.

Rounding out the top five schools were Iowa City's Regina Jr./Sr. High School, with an index of 2.20; George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, with an index of 1.66; John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, with an index of 1.40; and Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, with an index of 1.26.

The Belin-Blank Center will present certificates of recognition to the top 25 schools and to the second-tier schools. The top 25 schools also will be honored during the center's annual recognition ceremony, which is held in October of each year.

To view the index, which includes the top 25 schools as well as a second tier of schools ranked 26-50, visit The new rankings are also listed at the end of this release.

The index includes a variety of schools: very small, rural, urban, public, private, financially well off and those whose student populations meet the federal definition of high-poverty schools. A high AP Index would be 1.00, which means that the number of AP exams for that school equals the number of graduates. Six schools achieved or surpassed this standard.

The largest school (based on graduating seniors) in the top 25 is Iowa City High School; the smallest is Russell High School, which is also, by federal definition, a high poverty school. Also this year an alternative high school, the Individualized Learning Center in Sioux City, made the top 25.

Public high schools as a group also made progress this year. By factoring the number of exams taken by Iowa students (8,145 exams) and all graduating seniors in these schools in May 2005 (33,622 graduates), the Belin-Blank Center arrived at an index of 0.24, up from last year's overall public high school index of 0.18.

Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., said that what distinguishes the top 25 schools is their commitment to providing students with opportunities to take AP exams, whose successful completion can markedly improve a student's chances of doing well in college. While a school's standing in the rankings is important, he said more can be learned by comparing this year's index to last year's index for each school. A higher number means the school is providing more opportunities for its students to take AP exams. And that, ultimately, is the Belin-Blank Center's goal for all schools across Iowa.

"In Iowa, geography should not determine opportunity," Colangelo said. "Our goal is to bring challenging courses and opportunities, such as AP, to all schools in Iowa. The AP Index recognizes schools for providing AP and students for their willingness to step up to the AP challenge.  The statewide AP Index was higher this year than last year indicating that AP has been made more available.  I see this as a plus for all students and hopefully the AP Index will continue to encourage schools and students to seek higher academic challenges."

Developed by The College Board, AP allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school and is considered one of the most successful and respected academic programs in the nation. More than 3,000 colleges accept AP exam scores for either college credit or placement in higher-level courses. In May 2005, more than 1.2 million high school students took more than 2.1 million AP exams.

Numerous studies have touted the advantages of AP. AP test scores have been found to be excellent predictors of college grades and likelihood of graduation. In a 1999 study, U.S. Education Department researcher Clifford Adelman suggested that simply taking AP courses and exams -- even if exam scores were average -- provided students with advantage in terms of higher graduation rates from college. More recent research has shown the considerable benefits AP courses and exams offer minority students and those living below the federal poverty line.

The Belin-Blank Center has been one of Iowa's largest supporters of AP, and its efforts appear to be paying off. Just a few years ago Iowa ranked among the lowest in terms of AP participation. In 2001, with the support of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa Department of Education, received federal funding to establish the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA) to provide online AP courses and exams at no cost to all high school students in Iowa, with a special focus on rural schools.

Since 2001, IOAPA has seen the percentage of schools with access to AP increase dramatically, moving Iowa up 10 spots from 45th to 35th in the nation. IOAPA increased the number of Iowa high schools that offer AP exams from 156 in 2001 to 213 in 2005. In 2001, 5,995 AP exams were taken by 4,069 Iowa students and in 2005, 8,986 AP exams were taken by 6,047 Iowa students.

And while the number of schools in Iowa offering AP and the number of Iowa students taking AP exams increased dramatically from 2001 to 2005, the performance on the AP exams for Iowa remains high. In 2005, Iowa students ranked 10th in the nation with 67 percent of its students scoring at a level of 3 or better on the AP exams.

The Des Moines Central Academy again receives special recognition by the Belin-Blank Center for its long tradition of employing AP courses and tests. As a magnet school that draws top-performing students from other high schools, the academy functions differently from typical Iowa high schools and therefore was not included in the index this year or last.

The Belin-Blank Center sent schools that did not make the top 50 list their AP index totals for this year and last year in a confidential mailing.

The Belin-Blank Center mails letters requesting data to every public and private school included in the Iowa Department of Education's electronic address database, and participation is voluntary. In 2005, the year whose data is the basis of the 2006 index, there were 389 (360 public and 29 private) high schools in the Iowa database. Of these, 213 (187 public and 26 private) schools had at least 1 student take an AP exam in 2005. Of these 213 schools, 187 (171 public and 16 private) consented to participate in the Iowa AP Index - representing an 88 percent return rate.

EDITORS: Receipt of this news release indicates that someone from your coverage area has been included in the Iowa AP Index ranking. Those schools are listed below, with the top 25 listed first and the second-tier schools listed second. Information is listed as follows: rank, school, city, graduating seniors, AP tests administered and AP Index. Where the index score is the same for multiple schools, this is the result of rounding. The index was taken out to more decimal places to determine the rankings in very close ratios.

The Iowa AP Index for the Top 25 Schools (2006 ranking)

1. Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf, 14, 47, 3.36

2. Regina Jr./Sr. High School, Iowa City, 49, 108, 2.20

3. George Washington High School, Cedar Rapids, 348, 576, 1.66

4. John F Kennedy High School, Cedar Rapids, 369, 518, 1.40

5. Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, 352, 445, 1.26

6. West Senior High School, Iowa City, 349, 400, 1.15

7. Ames High School, Ames, 349, 323, 0.93

8. Norwalk Senior High School, Norwalk, 141, 125, 0.89

9. Hempstead High School, Dubuque, 356, 289, 0.81

10. Xavier High School, Cedar Rapids, 139, 112, 0.81

11. Dowling Catholic High School, West Des Moines, 252, 197, 0.78

12. West Bend-Mallard High School, West Bend, 30, 23, 0.77

13. East Marshall Senior High School, Le Grand, 51, 38, 0.75

14. Russell High School, Russell, 11, 8, 0.73

15. Muscatine High School, Muscatine, 292, 207, 0.71

16. Linn-Mar High School, Marion, 277, 196, 0.71

17. Dubuque Senior High School, Dubuque, 340, 238, 0.70

18. Iowa City High School, Iowa City, 378, 264, 0.70

19. Lisbon High School, Lisbon, 42, 29, 0.69

20. Individualized Learning Center, Sioux City, 15, 10, 0.67

21. East Buchanan High School, Winthrop, 49, 32, 0.65

22. Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, 312, 184, 0.59

23. Pleasant Valley High School, Pleasant Valley, 225, 132, 0.59

24. Johnston Senior High School, Johnston, 311, 178, 0.57

25. Wahlert High School, Dubuque, 150, 85, 0.57

The Iowa AP Index for the Top 26-50 Schools (2006 ranking)

26. Ankeny High School, Ankeny, 385, 209, 0.54

27. Williamsburg Jr./Sr. High School, Williamsburg, 87, 45, 0.52

28. Mid-Prairie High School, Wellman, 71, 36, 0.51

29. Pekin Community High School, Packwood, 48, 24, 0.50

30. Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, 321, 158, 0.49

31. Waterloo East High School, Waterloo, 206, 100, 0.49

32. Nevada High School, Nevada, 109, 49, 0.45

33. Kuemper High School, Carroll, 105, 47, 0.45

34. Oskaloosa High School, Oskaloosa, 178, 76, 0.43

35. Beckman High School, Dyersville, 68, 29, 0.43

36. Columbus High School, Waterloo, 102, 43, 0.42

37. West Liberty High School, West Liberty, 86, 36, 0.42

38. Urbandale High School, Urbandale, 257, 106, 0.41

39. Abraham Lincoln High School, Council Bluffs, 248, 102, 0.41

40. BCLUW High School, Conrad, 47, 19, 0.40

41. Northwood-Kensett Jr./Sr. High School, Northwood, 35, 14, 0.40

42. Sheffield-Chapin Community High School, Sheffield, 38, 15, 0.39

43. Southeast Polk High School, Runnells, 266, 99, 0.37

44. West Des Moines Valley High School, West Des Moines, 560, 207, 0.37

45. Lincoln High School, Des Moines, 380, 139, 0.37

46. Thomas Jefferson High School, Cedar Rapids, 324, 118, 0.36

47. Marshalltown High School, Marshalltown, 300, 108, 0.36

48. Iowa Valley Jr/Sr High School, Marengo, 42, 15, 0.36

49. North Polk Junior-Senior High School, Alleman, 74, 26, 0.35

50. Battle Creek-Ida Grove Senior High School, Ida Grove, 57, 20, 0.35

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen J. Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,