BANGOR – Jay Mathews, education columnist for the Washington Post, has released his annual Index of Most Challenging Schools, and Bangor High School is one of only six Maine high schools on the list.
Mr. Mathews explains that he designed the list “in contrast to the usual ranking of schools by test score averages, which is more of an indication of how affluent the parents are than of how good the school is.” The index measures the number of college-level tests, such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests, given at a school divided by the number of graduates that year.
Critics of the index claim that it only measures the number of tests taken and not how well students fare on the tests. Mr. Mathews has countered that he “decided not to count passing rates in this way because. . . many high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the courses.”
Bangor High School currently offers 20 AP courses and has an open access philosophy that all students should have the opportunity and encouragement to work at their highest levels, including access to Honors and Advanced Placement classes. Last year, Bangor students took 382 AP exams, with 79% passing with a score of 3, 4 or 5 as required to potentially earn college credit in that subject.
“We believe that every student is capable of academic excellence, regardless of their learning challenges, background or socioeconomic status, and we strive to give them opportunities to reach that level of excellence,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Betsy Webb. “We’re pleased that our students and staff are recognized for creating a challenging academic environment at Bangor High School by being included in the Challenge Index.”