Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews has posted his 2013 rankings of the nation's most challenging high schools, and you might be surprised at the highest-ranking school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
High-performing neighborhood schools like Myers Park and Ardrey Kell made the list, as did Harding, Cato and Berry, schools with academic admission requirements. But topping them all was Northwest School of the Arts, a magnet in West Charlotte that auditions students for their passion for music, theater, dance or visual art.
Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, a Cleveland County charter school, got the best ranking in the Charlotte region, landing at No. 125 with 4.8 exams per graduate. Northwest was at No. 593 with a 2.6 ratio, immediately followed by Gray Stone Day School, a Stanly County charter. Myers Park High was the next CMS school on the list, at 739.
The ratings aren't all that impressive for a district that used to routinely land a handful in Mathews' Top 100. That was when the district paid fees for all students to take the AP and IB exams. That subsidy was scaled back during the recession; Superintendent Heath Morrison is seeking $1.2 million from Mecklenburg County to revive that payment and start paying for career-tech exams.
Here are the other Charlotte-area high schools that made the list. They're in CMS unless otherwise noted:
809. Ardrey Kell.
956. South Meck.
1211. East Meck.
1287. North Meck.
1295. Lake Norman (Iredell-Statesville Schools).
1455. Cato Middle College.
1865. Mallard Creek.
1881. Olympic Biotech.