UI’s Belin-Blank Center recognizes top Iowa high schools for Advanced Placement participation

female student works in a lab

May 16, 2017

For the ninth consecutive year, George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids is the top Advanced Placement school in Iowa, according to the Iowa AP Index.

The index, developed in 2005 by the University of Iowa College of Education's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, assesses Advanced Placement (AP) participation among accredited public and nonpublic schools in Iowa. The index is part of the Belin-Blank Center’s efforts to recognize Iowa schools that provide challenging academic opportunities for high school students.

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program allows students to pursue college-level studies and take college-level exams while in high school. In May 2016, more than 2.6 million students took 4.7 million AP Exams in 37 subjects.

Rounding out the top 5 schools in the 2017 Iowa AP Index behind first-place George Washington High School (index of 3.31) are John F. Kennedy High School (2nd, Cedar Rapids, index of 3.03); Valley Lutheran High School (3rd, Cedar Falls, index of 3.00), Roosevelt High School (4th, Des Moines, index of 2.86); and West Senior High School (5th, Iowa City, index of 2.42).

Susan Assouline

Assouline

“Advanced Placement opportunities make a big difference in the lives of the students and their teachers. The rating reflects participation in the AP program at a school, not the overall quality of the school. However, one indication of a high school’s commitment to preparing high-ability students for college is access to advanced courses. Schools that make these opportunities available to the students are clearly committed to the success of the entire student body,” says Susan Assouline, director of the Belin-Blank Center.

The number of schools in Iowa offering AP opportunities and the number of AP exams taken has increased substantially since 2001, with 213 high schools having at least one student take an AP Exam and 21,081 AP Exams taken in 2016, according to the College Board. Sometimes, when greater numbers of students participate, there is a decline in performance. However, that is not the case with Iowa’s students. In 2016, the percentage of Iowa exams with a score of 3 or higher was 60.9%, which compares favorably to the 2016 national average of 57.5%.

The Iowa AP Index is designed to give a fair comparison of AP opportunity across Iowa schools. An index score is calculated for each participating school based on the ratio of AP exams taken by all its students divided by the number of its graduating seniors.

Through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), funded by the State of Iowa, all accredited high schools have access to free tuition for online AP courses and online AP Exam Review.  During 2016-2017, Iowa’s 6th graders had access to above-level testing, which indicates readiness for pre-AP advanced coursework. Iowa’s eligible middle school students also had access to free high-school level coursework through the Iowa Online AP Academy, in order to prepare them for future AP courses in high school. The Belin-Blank Center also provides outreach and professional development for teachers through the College Board-accredited Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute.

To view the top 50 AP schools in Iowa, visit www.iowaapindex.org.