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University of Iowa News Release


June 11, 2008

2008 index identifies top Iowa schools for Advanced Placement participation

Regina High School, a private high school in Iowa City that is part of the Regina Catholic Education Center, was listed as the most successful high school in Iowa for encouraging the use of Advanced Placement exams. The ranking is based on an index developed by the Belin-Blank Center of the University of Iowa.

In its continuing efforts to encourage and recognize Iowa schools that have made commitments to providing high-level academic opportunities for its high school students, the UI College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development ranked Regina High School number one in the fourth annual "Iowa AP Index for the Top 50 Schools" based on 2007 exam data, giving it an index score of 2.19.

George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, the highest ranked public school, followed with an index of 2.02; John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, with an index of 1.55; West High School in Iowa City, with an index of 1.50; and completing the top five schools, Roosevelt High School in Des Moines had an index of 1.31.

West Branch High School was the smallest school in the top 10 with a graduating class of 60, and John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids was the largest with 431 graduates.

In considering the entire top 50, the largest school, based on graduation size, is Valley High School in West Des Moines, and the smallest schools are West Bend-Mallard High School in West Bend and Tri-County High School in Thornburg.

This year eight new schools broke into the top 50, including Hoover High School in Des Moines, Indianola High School, Iowa Mennonite School in Kalona, Kee High School in Lansing, Mount Vernon High School, Newman Catholic High School in Mason City, Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids and West Branch High School. Two schools also made it into the top 25 for the first time: Southeast Polk High School in Pleasant Valley and Valley High School in West Des Moines.

The Belin-Blank Center will present certificates of recognition to the top 50 schools. The top 25 schools will be honored during the annual Belin-Blank Recognition Ceremony Sunday, Oct. 12.

The Iowa AP Index provides a fair comparison of AP opportunity across Iowa schools. The Iowa AP Index for a high school is the ratio of AP exams taken by its students (any grade) divided by the number of its graduating seniors. A high score of 1.00 means the number of AP exams for that school equals the number of graduates. Eight schools achieved or surpassed this standard.

In 2007, 384 schools (357 public and 27 private) high schools were registered in the Iowa Department of Education's electronic address database. Of the 384 schools, 231 (209 public and 22 private) schools had at least one student take an AP exam in 2007. Out of these 231 schools, 213 (197 public and 16 private) agreed to participate in the 2008 Iowa AP Index.

The top 50 schools range in graduating class size from 26 to 558. There are 43 public and seven private schools in the top 50. To view the latest index of the top 50 schools, based on May 2007 testing, visit For more information on the 2008 Iowa AP Index, visit

The top schools range from rural to urban areas throughout Iowa, and include both private and public schools.

"The index gives students credit collectively for having taken AP courses and exams," said Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo. "Iowa has been gaining in AP. More exams are being taken, and we are maintaining a high level of performance."

In 2001, Iowa students ranked 11th in the nation in scores on AP exams of three or better. In 2004, there were 4,069 students who took at least one exam, and in 2007, 7,127 Iowa students took at least one exam.

"This is a pretty remarkable pattern," Colangelo said. "The number of students taking exams dramatically increased, and at the same time, the level of exam performance also increased This is quite a statement about Iowa students and their teachers."

In 2001, the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) was established by the Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa Department of Education, with the support of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to provide online AP courses and exams to all students at accredited high schools in Iowa, with a special focus on rural schools. The grant covers the cost of the courses and materials.

The Belin-Blank Center, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, has made a concerted effort to bring AP opportunities to the schools of Iowa, especially to each rural school.

"The goal of the Belin-Blank Center has been that, in Iowa, geography will not determine educational opportunity," Colangelo said.

The 2008 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.

"The great thing about AP exams is no matter how small the school, it gives students a chance to compete on a level field with the rest of the nation," Colangelo said. "Our students are getting more opportunities on a nationally recognized standard."

In May 2007 more than 1.4 million high school students took more than 2.5 million AP exams. Developed by the College Board, AP allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school and is one of the most successful and respected academic programs in the nation. Over 3,000 colleges and universities accept AP exam scores for either college credit or placement into higher-level courses.

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 the 2008 index with their last year's index. They can compare their index with the 2008 Iowa state average of .29 for public schools.

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 at The following Information is included: rank, school, city, AP tests administered, graduating seniors and AP Index. Where the index score is the same for multiple schools, this is the result of rounding.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center,; Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6130,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer, Aly Dolan