Smarty Pants

This Austin high school is one of the most challenging in the nation

This Austin high school is one of the most challenging in the nation

One Austin high school ranks among the most challenging in the nation, according to a report by the Washington Post

The Ann Richards School for Young Woman Leaders ranks No. 19 out of the most challenging schools. The report covered more than 2,300 campuses nationwide.

For its formula, the Post took the total number of college-level tests and divided that by the number of seniors who graduated. The tests include the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education.

The formula is called the Challenge Index.

"The Challenge Index is designed to identify schools that have done the best job in persuading average students to take college-level courses and tests," they explain. "It does not work with schools that have no, or almost no, average students. We put those schools on our Public Elites list."

Some teachers are not impressed by the Post's annual survey. One called it "one of the most flawed and detrimental activities occurring in education today," charging that "administrators obsessed with getting their school recognized on these horrible lists are short-changing the kids."

A commenter named SuburbanMom suggests that the ranking system be given a more accurate title. "'Most challenging' is not accurate," she says. "How about 'The best at driving out the special ed students and bringing up the bottom?'"

The outcome is skewed by the fact that some parents must pay for placement tests while other students who qualify for free or reduced lunch take them for free or at a discounted rate. The survey also has at least one school on the list that has since been closed.

Six other Texas schools join the Ann Richards School in the top 20: three in Dallas and one each in Arlington, Houston and Lubbock. 

Austin Photo Set: News_Shelley Seale_Ann Richards School_Nov 2011_science
This Austin school is among the most challenging in America. Courtesy of The Anne Richards School