LAUSD places 9 schools among top 25 in county ‘Challenge Index’
Craig Clough | September 26, 2014
Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews took an in-depth look at Los Angeles County this month when he applied his Challenge Index rankings and came up with a list of the top 75 private and public schools.
The results may surprise some, as Mathews noted that only six schools on the list are private, and the top school, LA Unified’s Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, is a public magnet school in which half the students are from low income families. Eight other schools from LA Unified were ranked in the top 25.
Mathews has been applying his Challenge Index to national rankings in the Washington Post and Newsweek for decades. The LA County rankings were published in the September issue of Los Angeles Magazine.
Mathews’ Challenge Index takes a non-traditional approach to ranking high schools, and while his methods are not without critics, they do provoke some interesting thoughts, as well as hope for the opportunities a public education can offer. In his explanation of the rankings, Mathews wrote that SAT, ACT, and state test scores don’t offer a one-to-one correlation with the schools that prepare the most students for college, so he ranks schools by participation in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses and tests.
Viewing schools with this different lens, Mathews said parents should not worry if they can’t afford a private school with high SAT scores.
“Stanford, Yale, and similar institutions pick only a few students from each school,” he wrote. “It’s hard to stand out in a class full of near-perfect SAT scores. Private schools may seem to do better at placing students in the Ivy League, but look carefully. Often they have more Ivy-graduate parents, whose children are given special consideration by their alma maters.”
The LA Unified schools ranked in the top 25 are: James A. Foshay Learning Center (No. 11), Harbor Teacher Preparation Acadamy (12), North Hollywood High (14), Eagle Rock High (15), King Drew Medical Magnet High School (16), Van Nuys Senior High (22), 32nd Street/USC Performing Arts Magnet (24) and Downtown Magnets High School (25).