Harriton, Wissahickon, Perkiomen Valley, Lower Merion and Souderton are County’s Most Challenging High Schools

Lower Merion's Harriton High School is among the best in the state at challenging students to reach their full potential through college-level tests.(Image via www.varsityjacketsstlouis.com)

Sometimes a good challenge is all it takes to push students to achieve their full potential, and in Montgomery County, that’s happening the most at Harriton, Wissahickon, Perkiomen Valley, Lower Merion and Souderton high schools.

All five ranked among Pennsylvania’s top 20 for The Washington Post’s 2017 listing of America’s Most Challenging High Schools.

The annual scoresheet grades schools on the number of college-level Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.

“In 1998, the first year of what I call the Challenge Index, only about 1 percent of U.S. schools qualified,” said Post reporter Jay Mathews. “The number this year is up to about 12 percent.”

Harriton was best in the county and third in the state. There, 75.8 percent of grads passed at least one of the college-level tests, and its total was almost 3.6 tests per student.

Wissahickon and Perkiomen Valley both cracked the statewide top 10 at eighth and 10th, respectively, with 2.8 and 2.7 tests per student. Lower Merion was 16th at 2.3 and Souderton 20th at 2.1.

“The average score on all AP exams has held steady from 2003 to 2016 despite the portion of low-income test-takers increasing from 9.5 to 21.8 percent,” the article stated.

At 20 percent of students who qualify for lunch subsidies, Wissahickon and Souderton share the county’s highest potential for low-income test-takers.

Read more details of the rankings in The Washington Post here, and check out previous MONTCO Today school coverage here.