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Wilson, Poly Among Newsweek's Top Schools

Newsweek’s June 2 ranking of "America’s Best High Schools" lists Wilson Classical High School and Polytechnic High School among the top 4 percent of U.S. high schools. Schools ranked by Newsweek have the greatest number of students taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests, compared to the number of graduating seniors. Graduates of these high schools save millions of dollars in college tuition each year by earning college credit on the difficult AP exams. Each school on the list performed among the top four percent, or 737, of all American high schools measured this way. "It’s a great honor for two of our outstanding high schools to win this national recognition," said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools. "The quality of our schools just keeps getting better and better." The highly ranked Long Beach schools surpassed prestigious high schools in neighboring Orange County, including nearby Los Alamitos High School. The top 737 U.S. schools included Wilson at 506, Poly at 612 and Los Alamitos at 674. Newsweek’s June 2 cover story and school rankings are available at msnbc.com and Newsweek.com, along with Newsweek’s "web-exclusive" extended list of the nation’s top high schools. "Some experts think AP is growing so fast and spreading so far it could eventually supplant the SAT and the ACT as America’s most influential test," the cover story says. "At Harvard -- the dream school for many high-performing seniors -- the dean of admissions says AP is already a better predictor of college grades than the SAT." Newsweek’s list of top high schools has been compared to U.S. News & World Report’s "America’s Best Colleges" list. Newsweek ranks public schools according to a ratio called the Challenge Index--the number of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in 2002 divided by the number of graduating seniors. The schools on the list have the strongest AP or IB programs in the nation. More than 2,000 LBUSD students passed Advanced Placement college preparation tests last year, an increase of 59 percent since 1999. Poly also now ranks among the best public and private high schools in the U.S. on the number of Advanced Placement tests taken and passed. The latest national ranking from the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey places Poly High School 36th among 22,991 U.S. high schools -- higher than 99.839 percent of the high schools in the nation. On the Newsweek list, both schools rank above 96 percent of American high schools. Districtwide, rigorous AP courses now prepare high school students to take and pass more than 20 different exams to earn advanced college academic credit while still in high school. Top local high school graduates often enter college as sophomores because they have already earned a full year of AP college credits. More than 60 percent of AP students graduate from college in four years or less. Nation-ally, only 38 percent of students graduate from college in four years or less. The faster college completion rate for local AP scholars saves their families millions of dollars.