George Washington High School

May 31, 2018

For the tenth 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 Belin-Blank 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 2017, more than 2.7 million students took almost 5 million AP Exams in 38 subjects.

Rounding out the top 5 schools in the 2018 Iowa AP Index behind first-place George Washington High School (index of 3.02) are Valley Lutheran High School (2nd, Cedar Falls, index of 2.75), Valley High School (3rd, West Des Moines, index of 2.50) John F. Kennedy High School (4th, Cedar Rapids, index of 2.45); and West Senior High School (5th, Iowa City, index of 2.38).

“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," says Susan Assouline, director of the Belin-Blank Center. 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.” 

The number of schools in Iowa offering AP opportunities and the number of AP exams taken has increased substantially since 2001, with 210 high schools having at least one student take an AP Exam and 20,372 AP Exams taken in 2017, 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 2017, the percentage of Iowa exams with a score of 3 or higher was 62.5 percent, which compares favorably to the 2016 national average of 60.9 percent.

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. This year's ranking is based on the AP exams taken in May 2017 and seniors graduating in May or June 2017.

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 2017-18, Iowa’s fifth 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.