Monday, August 20, 2018


As we have written before, it's important as we measure performance to assess the availability of rigorous coursework, and whether students take advantage of the opportunity afforded them to take the exams associated with those courses.

So, for 2018, which were the Idaho high schools that had the highest participation in rigorous coursework? We define "rigorous coursework"as the "gold standard" for rigor in Idaho, Advanced Placement exams. (We do not evaluate participation in International Baccalaureate exams, the other rigorous national exams offered in Idaho).

We deem AP to be the "gold standard" for a couple of reasons:

  • The Advanced Placement exams provide a national standard for particular content knowledge, from United States History to Biology, Calculus to French to Music Theory. Scores of "3" and above on AP exams are deemed "passing", and individual colleges and universities determine the specific credit or waiver to be granted for a particular score.
  • Over 90% of colleges nationwide grant credit or waivers for particular scores on AP exams.
We define exam participation as:

The number of students taking AP exams in 2018 in a high school
The number of 2018 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in the school*

*We used Fall 2018 enrollment numbers from the SDE for this calculation.

Here are the high schools with the highest percentage of exam participation in 2018 in Idaho:

Note that, even though most of the high schools are larger, CDA Charter and McCall-Donnelly, relatively small Idaho high schools,  are included on this list, as they have been in the past. Also, Wood River is a somewhat smaller high school that focuses on rigor, and the two Vallivue high schools have done an excellent job of providing rigor for their students. All four Boise District high schools provide excellent opportunity for rigorous coursework, featuring AVID and at least 24 different AP course offerings.

The next group of high participation schools includes mostly large urban high schools, but also highlights Sandpoint and Moscow, two northern Idaho schools with strong AP programs. Note that two West Ada schools are also included here, as the District has received achievement awards from the College Board for improvement of its AP program.