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Central High School receives national recognition for academics

Date: 5/24/2011

may 25, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield school officials learned May 20 that Central High School was included in the annual Washington Post's "High School Challenge."

This is the first time the largest high school in Western Massachusetts was named to the list.

SABIS International Charter School in Springfield and Northampton High School were the only other high schools in Western Massachusetts ranked in the list of 1,900 public secondary schools.

Jay Mathews, the columnist for the Washington Post who started the list 13 years ago, explained in his blog, "The idea for the list came to me as I was completing a book about America's best public high schools. I kept running into the same mindless policy: Schools refused to let average students take the college-level courses and tests, reserving them for the better students. Research and common sense suggested that C students would learn much and be readier for college if they also took AP [advanced placement], but few schools appreciated that."

Advanced Placement classes are college-level courses that earn high school students college credit upon successful completion.

He added, "The Challenge Index calculation is simple. I wanted everyone to be able to understand it and use it. Add up all the AP, IB [International Baccalaureate] or AICE [American Institute for Creative Education] tests taken in a given year. Divide by the number of graduating seniors. The target I set is also simple: Every school should reach a ratio of at least 1.000 — that is, as many college-level tests taken as diplomas issued. Any school that does will make my national list, unless its passing rate on those tests is unusually low or the school is unusually selective ... My list finds that only 1,910 U.S. public high schools, about 7 percent of the nationwide total, meet the target ratio."

The ratio for Central High School was 1.116.

According to information released by the Springfield School Department, "in the past five years, the number of Central High School students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses more than doubled going from 222 to 517. And Central High School students' performance on AP examinations outpaces the national average."

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alan J. Ingram called making the list "a great honor for the entire school district."

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