VHS Moves Way Up In Washington Post Rankings


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VHS-Electronic-SignSuperintendent Steve Forte told the Board of Education on Tuesday night that Verona High School has seen a substantial improvement in its position on a list of America’s most challenging high schools.

The list, published by The Washington Post, ranks schools by looking at the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at the schools each year divided by the number of graduating seniors. Verona has been pushing more students to take AP courses and their accompanying tests, and their ranks have increased dramatically. Last fall, the BOE honored 23 students AP Scholar Students, a distinction granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams, while six were named AP Scholars With Honor (an average of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams), and 17 were named AP Scholar with Distinction (at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more tests). Two students, Benjamin Jung and Jenna O’Connell, the co-salutatorians of the Class of 2013, received the top honor, National AP Scholar, which is given for scoring an average of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. 

Verona High School has risen from 1,704 on the Washington Post list in 2011 to 817 this year. It is one of 122 New Jersey high schools on the list, which includes local public high schools, regional high schools and private and charter schools. VHS is 21 on the list of New Jersey schools and compares favorably to other schools to others in its so-called District Factor Group: Cresskill is number 12, Madison is 14. Glen Ridge, also in Verona’s DFG, was 25. Among the other public and private schools around Verona, Montclair Kimberley Academy was 32, West Essex was 52, West Orange was 103 and Montclair was 112. Elizabeth High School was ranked number 1 in New Jersey; the top school nationwide was the American Indian Public Charter school in Oakland, Calif.

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  1. These results correlate directly to the initiatives of Chuck Sampson and Liz Jewett in remapping the curriculum, eliminating many “Honors” classes and making AP classes more accessible to a broader student population.

    This was very controversial at the time, I remember many late night meetings, but here’s the outcome.

    I say this because the methodolgy for creating the Challenge Index was realtively straight forward. Simply put, the more AP tests taken, the better the score. From the WP Article:

    “We take the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divide by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June.”


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