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Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders Named 19th Most Challenging High School in U.S.

Washington Post index includes more than 2,300 schools across the country

The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders has been named the 19th most challenging high school in the U.S. according to a nationwide high school ranking system created by Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews.

The list includes more than 2,300 public and private schools across the country with 169 schools in Texas. Only 11 percent of U.S. high schools achieve the standards to be on the list.

A high school can be ranked if half of its students take one Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Advanced International Certificate of Education test in their junior year and one in their senior year.

“Given that this recognition is based on Ann Richards’ first graduating class in 2013, I think this is a testament to our committed teachers, innovative lessons and how maintaining high standards can help contribute to the elimination of poverty,” said Ann Richards Principal Jeanne Goka.

The rating system uses a Challenge Index, which considers college test participation a better measure of school success than test scores because research shows that students who take a college-level test did significantly better in college than similar students who did not.

“The majority of our students are economically disadvantaged, but despite that, all of our girls are college-bound; 100 percent have been accepted to college since Ann Richards opened. We truly believe sending our girls to college will help lift their families out of poverty,” Goka said.

The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders achieved a Challenge Index of 9.94, which gave it the 19th-highest rating for all high schools ranked nationwide and the seventh-highest rating among Texas high schools.

The Challenge Index formula is designed to identify schools such as Ann Richards that succeed in encouraging students to take college-level courses and tests. The list excludes magnet and charter high schools that draw high concentrations of top students and have an average school SAT score above 2000 or an average school ACT score above 29. These schools are placed on a separate list viewable here: [Top-performing schools with elite students]

[Read about the method behind The Washington Post’s America’s Most Challenging High Schools rankings.]