EC, Northgate among nation’s challenging schools

by Celia Shortt

Two Coweta County high schools, East Coweta and Northgate, were recognized as two of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools,” on this year’s Washington Post’s index of top secondary schools in the nation.

ECHS and NGHS were among the 2,149 schools to make the annual list, placing them in the top 10 percent of the 22,000 schools surveyed nationwide.

“We have worked really hard to create an atmosphere where kids and teachers feel comfortable challenging themselves and taking risks,” said ECHS Principal Evan Horton. “Monthly mentoring programs for all students are held at the school. A large part of that program is centered around discussing the benefits of rigorous coursework. We have also spent a great deal of time trying to develop meaningful relationships with our students and to provide support to them as they challenge themselves.”

NGHS Principal Bill Harrison said everyone at his school has worked to create a school-wide ethic of encouraging NGHS students to challenge themselves academically.

“I give every bit of that credit to the teachers here,” he said. “They prepare students for academically challenging work, prepare them for high-level and college-level work, and encourage them to apply themselves in advanced classes.”

According to the Coweta County School System, the “America’s Most Challenging High School” list was previously known as Newsweek magazine’s “America’s Best High School List.”

It ranks schools by the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school during the 2013 school year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated in the spring of that year. Students who complete these exams usually earn college-level credit.

NGHS ranked 1901, placing them in the top nine percent nationally high schools, and ECHS ranked 2089 placing them in the top ten percent. They are two of just 117 Georgia schools to make the 2014 list, and this is NGHS’ second year in a row to be recognized.

Jay Matthews is the Washington Post writer who creates the “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” list every year. He calls the formula for it “The Challenge Index.” According to him, schools which rank high on the list had “as many or more tests administered as they had graduates, indicating that the schools had a large number of students who took the tests, with many students taking more than one college-level exam.”

Matthew also said this year, only nine percent of the 22,000 public high schools reached that standard.



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