The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts has been recognized as one of the nation’s top-performing public high schools in the latest Jay Mathews Challenge Index rankings.
Mathews, an education columnist for The Washington Post, created the Challenge Index in 1998 as a way to recognize schools across the nation who adequately challenge average students. It has been published as “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” list in The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine in past years.
This year’s list was announced on a new website — jaymathewschallengeindex.com.
Rather than using test scores, Mathews created a ranking list that uses a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge tests given at a school each year divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. The Challenge Index ranks approximately the top 11% of the more than 22,000 high schools in the nation.
Mathews also created a second list of top-performing high schools who are not included in the Challenge Index “because, despite their exceptional quality, their standardized test scores indicate they have few or no average students,” according to the website. It includes non-neighborhood schools with SAT or ACT averages above the highest averages for neighborhood schools nationally. Mathews traditionally calls this list the “Public Elites,” which includes ASMSA.
“ASMSA is thrilled to, once again, stand shoulder-to-shoulder among national leaders in secondary education,” said ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice. “Mathews’ list underscores that it is not a matter if bright and talented young people exist in rural communities across the nation; instead, the ‘Public Elites’ list demonstrates the excellence possible when young people are able to learn to their full ability and potential.”
ASMSA is included among the 29 schools nationwide on the Public Elites list. Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville ranked 67th in the Challenge Index, while Lisa Academy in Little Rock ranked 154th and Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy ranked 168th among the Top 200.
This is the fourth consecutive time ASMSA has been included on the Public Elites list. The school was first added to the Public Elites list in 2015 and included in the 2016 and 2017 list. Mathews did not release a list in 2018.