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University of Iowa News Release


April 19, 2010

2010 index identifies top Iowa schools for Advanced Placement participation

George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids achieved the No. 1 ranking on the "Iowa Advanced Placement Index for the Top 50 Schools" for the second year in a row.

The index, developed six years ago by the University of Iowa College of Education's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, assesses AP participation among accredited public and non-public schools in Iowa. The index is part of the Belin-Blank Center’s efforts to encourage and recognize Iowa schools that provide high-level academic opportunities for high school students.

The 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. A score of 1.00 means the number of AP exams for a school equals the number of graduates. Eleven schools achieved or surpassed this standard this year, up from 10 last year.

In the latest index, George Washington earned the top score of 2.60; John F. Kennedy High School, another public high school in Cedar Rapids, came in second with a score of 2.50; West High School in Iowa City ranked third with a score of 1.80; Ames High School ranked fourth with a score of 1.75; and Roosevelt High School in Des Moines ranked fifth with a score of 1.62.

The top 50 schools on the 2010 Index range from rural to urban, and they span the state’s geography. There are 42 public and eight non-public schools in the top 50. The average AP Index for all public schools in Iowa has increased each year for the past five years, from 0.24 in 2006 to 0.36 in 2010.

Prince of Peace Academy and College Preparatory in Clinton, which ranked number 16, is the smallest school in the Top 50, with 15 graduates in 2009. Valley High School in West Des Moines, which ranked number eight, is the largest school on the index, with 550 graduates in 2009.

"AP courses and exams are a rigorous and meaningful indicator of academic preparation for college," said Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo. "Iowa students continue to make substantial strides in both numbers of students participating in AP exams and levels of achievement."

AP exams are scored on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 considered top-level work in a corresponding college course. A score of 3 or better is accepted at more than 3,600 college and universities for either college credit or advanced placement in college courses. In 2009, Iowa’s average AP Exam score was 3.08, compared to the national average of 2.88. Iowa also outperformed the nation in percent of students who scored a 3 or better on the AP Exams. In 2009, 65.6 percent of Iowa’s students scored a 3 or better on the AP exams, which compares favorably to the 2009 national average of 58.4 percent of students who scored a 3 or better.

Colangelo said that support for AP classes in Iowa received a big boost in 2008 when the Iowa legislature passed the Senior Year Plus program. The program helps “to provide Iowa high school students increased access to college credit or advanced placement coursework.” The Senior Year Plus statute (Iowa Code 261E.4) “compels all school districts to make AP courses available to students.”

In 2001, with the support of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, the Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa Department of Education established the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) to provide AP opportunities to all students at accredited high schools in Iowa, with a special focus on rural schools. The partnership with the Iowa Department of Education covers the cost of the courses, exams and materials. Schools can fulfill the obligations of the Senior Year Plus program by participating in IOAPA.

Nationally, in May 2009, more than 1.6 million high school students took more than 2.9 million AP exams. AP allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. AP exams cover 33 subject areas.

The 2010 Iowa AP Index is based on the AP exams taken in May 2009 and seniors graduating in May/June 2009. At least one AP exam was taken in 2009 in 215 (56 percent) of Iowa’s 377 accredited high schools. Of the schools eligible to participate in the 2010 Iowa AP Index, 97 percent agreed to participate.

The top 25 schools will be honored during the annual Belin-Blank Recognition Ceremony Sunday, October 17, at the UI. The top 50 schools will receive certificates of recognition.

For more information on the 2010 Iowa AP Index, visit

EDITORS: Receipt of this news release indicates that a school in your coverage area has been included in the Iowa AP Index ranking. The top 50 schools are listed at The following information is included: rank, school, city, and AP Index. Where the index score is the same for multiple schools, this is the result of rounding.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center,; Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6130,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,