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University of Iowa News Release


May 11, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to a calculation error, Waterloo Columbus had their graduation number changed from 108 to 68. This made their index move from 0.47 to 0.75 and moved their rank from 30 to 14. Those schools that were 14 to 29 all moved down in their ranking (15 to 30).

Index Identifies Top Iowa Schools For Advanced Placement Participation

For the second year in a row Rivermont Collegiate High School, a small, private high school in Bettendorf, was listed as the best high school in Iowa for encouraging the use of Advanced Placement exams. The ranking is based on an index developed by the University of Iowa's gifted education program.

The third annual "Iowa AP Index for the Top 50 Schools," created by the UI College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, gave Rivermont top billing based on 2006 exam data. Although the school graduated just 12 seniors last year, it administered 34 AP exams, giving it an index of 2.83.

Rounding out the top five schools were George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, with an index of 2.17; Regina Jr./Sr. High School in Iowa City, with an index of 2.14; East Marshall Senior High School in Le Grand, with an index of 1.62; and John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, with an index of 1.50.

Also this year, the following three schools in Iowa made the top 10 for the first time: East Marshall Senior High School in LeGrand; Dubuque Senior High School; and Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman.

The Belin-Blank Center will present certificates of recognition to the top 50 schools. The top 25 schools will also be honored during the annual Belin-Blank Recognition Ceremony Saturday, Oct. 6.

To arrive at the index, the Belin-Blank Center divides the number of AP exams taken by its students in any grade by the number of graduating seniors. This year's ranking is based on the AP exams taken in May 2006 and seniors graduating in May or June 2006.

In 2006, there were 385 (358 public and 27 private) high schools in the Iowa Department of Education's electronic address database. Of these 385 high schools, 227 (205 public and 22 private) schools had at least one student take an AP exam in 2006. Of these 227 schools, 125 (112 public and 13 private) consented to participate in the 2007 Iowa AP Index.

The top 50 schools range in class size from 11 to 539. There are 42 public and eight private schools in the top 50. To view the index of the top 50 schools, visit The new rankings are also listed at the end of this release. To view the 2007 Iowa AP Index, visit:

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. Eight schools surpassed this standard.

The largest school (based on graduating seniors) in the top 50 is Valley High School in West Des Moines, and the smallest schools are Russell High School in Russell and Prince of Peace High School in Clinton.

Public high schools as a group also made progress this year. By factoring the number of exams taken by Iowa students (9,041 exams) and all graduating seniors in these public schools in May 2006 (33,801 graduates), the Belin-Blank Center arrived at an index of 0.27, up slightly from last year's overall public high school index of 0.24.

Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo said that what distinguishes the top 50 schools is their commitment to providing students with opportunities to take AP exams. Preparing for and taking AP exams can markedly improve a student's chance 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."

Colangelo added that six Iowa schools broke into the top 50 for the first time, and five schools moved up significantly from past AP index rankings. "This indicates that the AP opportunities are not static in Iowa and that not only are more students taking the AP exam, but the distribution of AP in Iowa is fluid," Colangelo said. "This is what we hope for and what we mean by minimizing geography as a determinant of opportunity."

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 2006, more than 1.3 million high school students took more than 2.3 million AP exams.

There have been numerous studies conducted and articles printed proclaiming the advantages of AP, Colangelo said. AP test scores have been found to be very good predictors of college grades and college graduation rates. A National Center for Educational Accountability study conducted in 2005 indicated that passing AP exams shows a strong and consistent relationship to college graduation rates. Recently, there has been considerable reporting on the benefits of AP courses and exams for minority students and students from poverty backgrounds. Such students exceed their educators' expectations on AP. AP tests and minority students were made famous with the movie "Stand and Deliver," portraying the high success of inner-city Latino students on the AP Calculus exam.

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 19 spots from 45th to 26th in the nation. IOAPA increased the number of Iowa high schools that offer AP exams from 156 in 2001 to 227 in 2006. In 2001, 5,995 AP exams were taken by 4,069 Iowa students and in 2006, 9,833 AP exams were taken by 6,607 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 2006, the performance on the AP exams for Iowa remains high. In 2001, Iowa students ranked 11th in the nation with 67 percent of its students scoring at a level of 3 or better on the AP exams on a scale of 1-5. In 2006, Iowa ranked seventh in the nation with 70 percent of students scoring 3 or better on the AP exams.

The Belin-Blank Center gives special recognition to the Des Moines Central Academy. The academy is nationally recognized for its outstanding offering of a wide variety of AP courses as well as the excellent performance of its students. Because Des Moines Central Academy is not a typical high school but a magnet school for other Des Moines high schools, it was not ranked with the high schools. Its AP Index of 5.85 puts it into a "class of its own," Colangelo said.

The Belin-Blank Center sent schools that did not make the top 50 their AP index for this year and last year in a confidential mailing. Each school can measure its individual progress by comparing itself to last year's index and as well as to the state average of 0.27 of public schools for this year.

EDITORS: Receipt of this news release indicates that a school in your coverage area has been included in the Iowa AP Index ranking. The top 50 schools are listed below. 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 2007 Iowa AP Index for the Top 50 Schools (based on the May 2006 testing):

1. Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf, 12, 34, 2.83

2. George Washington High School, Cedar Rapids, 293, 636, 2.17

3. Regina Jr./Sr. High School, Iowa City, 69, 148, 2.14

4. East Marshall Senior High School, Le Grand, 55, 89, 1.62.

5. John F Kennedy High School, Cedar Rapids, 416, 626, 1.50

6. West Senior High School, Iowa City, 392, 445, 1.14

7. Ames High School, Ames, 348, 365, 1.05

8. Dubuque Senior High School, Dubuque, 315, 329, 1.04

9. Mid-Prairie High School, Wellman, 74, 72, 0.97

10. Norwalk Senior High School, Norwalk, 163, 148, 0.91

11. Hempstead High School, Dubuque, 392, 340, 0.87

12. Johnston Senior High School, Johnston, 302, 240, 0.79

13. West Liberty High School, West Liberty, 69, 53, 0.77

14. Columbus High School, Waterloo, 68, 51, 0.75

15. Muscatine High School, Muscatine, 314, 228, 0.73

16. Linn-Mar High School, Marion, 312, 212, 0.68

17. Pleasant Valley High School, Pleasant Valley, 270, 181, 0.67

18. Wahlert High School, Dubuque, 145, 96, 0.66

19. Nevada High School, Nevada, 110, 72, 0.65

20. Xavier High School, Cedar Rapids, 170, 111, 0.65

21. Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, 306, 187, 0.61

22. Iowa City High School, Iowa City, 323, 190, 0.59

23. Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, 328, 190, 0.58

24. Dowling Catholic High School, West Des Moines, 256, 148, 0.58

25. Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, 350, 201, 0.57

26. Northwood-Kensett Jr/Sr High School, Northwood, 34, 19, 0.56

27. West Bend-Mallard High School, West Bend, 38, 21, 0.55

28. Russell High School, Russell, 11, 6, 0.55

29. Decorah High School, Decorah, 161, 85, 0.53

30. Kuemper High School, Carroll, 102, 53, 0.52

31. Ankeny High School, Ankeny, 416, 193, 0.46

32. Lisbon High School, Lisbon, 38, 17, 0.45

33. Spencer High School, Spencer, 163, 69, 0.42

34. Thomas Jefferson High School, Cedar Rapids, 319, 127, 0.40

35. Urbandale High School, Urbandale, 276, 109, 0.39

36. Abraham Lincoln High School, Council Bluffs, 267, 103, 0.39

37. Williamsburg Jr/Sr High School, Williamsburg, 93, 35, 0.38

38. Pekin Community High School, Packwood, 40, 15, 0.38

39. MOC-Floyd Valley High School, Orange City, 104, 38, 0.37

40. Prince of Peace College Preparatory, Clinton, 11, 4, 0.36

41. Waukee Senior High School, Waukee, 197, 70, 0.36

42. Oskaloosa High School, Oskaloosa, 169, 60, 0.36

43. Waukon High School, Waukon, 115, 40, 0.35

44. East Buchanan High School, Winthrop, 49, 17, 0.35

45. Nodaway Valley High School, Greenfield, 50, 17, 0.34

46. Valley High School, West Des Moines, 539, 183, 0.34

47. Tri-Center High School, Neola, 56, 19, 0.34

48. Tipton High School, Tipton, 68, 23, 0.34

49. Midland Community High School, Wyoming, 37, 12, 0.32

50. Montezuma High School, Montezuma, 47, 15, 0.32

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Program Contact, Nicholas Colangelo,; or Susan Assouline, 319-335-6130,