Falls Church City Schools Rank No. 1 in Post’s Challenge Index

In its annual review of top-performing high schools in the Metro area, the Washington Post’s 2010 Challenge Index ranked Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS) number one out of 28 school districts. George Mason High School landed the number four slot out of 172 high schools.

The Challenge Index measures public high schools’ ability to challenge their students with Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and other college-level testing. The index’s formula is to take the number of IB or other college-level tests a school gave in 2009 and divide that number, which includes all students, by the size of the graduating class. The index weighs other factors such as the percentage of students passing the exams, and the percentage of subsidized school lunches.

In a statement about the index’s purpose, the Washington Post wrote the index “illuminates the one quantifiable factor that seems to reveal best the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college.”

George Mason scored 5.333, with an “Equity and Excellence” rating of 66.7 percent for all seniors who have at least one college credit-qualifying IB score.

“I’m so proud of our students and staff at George Mason High School,” FCCPS Superintendent Lois Berlin said in a press release today. “They continue to challenge themselves to reach their greatest potential, and it shows in the results.”

At the moment, the school system pays for students’ college-level testing. Due to potential budget cuts for 2011, the school board has considered cutting the subsidies.

Fairfax County Public Schools made fourth on the district-level index. McLean High made 16th on the list, with an index rating of 4.002. George C. Marshall came in 30th (3.228), J.E.B. Stuart in 58th (2.429) and Falls Church High School in 63rd (2.358)

To view the Washington Post’s Challenge Index 2010, visit their Web site at