Five county high schools rank in the top 50 in the region when it comes to preparing their students for the rigors of college, according to a recent survey by The Washington Post. The newspaper’s Most Challenging High Schools Index is an annual barometer of the efforts made by schools to provide a rigorous academic environment and prepare students for college-level coursework and exams.

The widely-accepted, nationally-recognized Challenge Index formula takes into account Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other college-level exams given to graduating seniors; average SAT score; percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals; and extracurricular opportunities.

Among county schools, South River leads the pack at 14th on the 170-school regional list. Severna Park is second at No. 27, followed by Annapolis (30), Broadneck (40), Old Mill (46), Arundel (58), Southern (60), North County (72), Chesapeake (99), Glen Burnie (116), Meade (122), and Northeast (127).

Since 2006, the number of AP exams administered to AACPS students has more than doubled and enrollment in AP courses is up more than 45 percent.  Such encouragement to pursue rigor has paid off as last year’s graduating class was offered more than $136 million in scholarships, more than triple the amount earned by the Class of 2006.

The index, released last month, calculates a rating for all schools that equates to the number of AP or IB exams taken per graduating senior. Three county schools have index ratings above 4.0, led by South River’s 4.736. Severna Park has an index rating of 4.075, and Annapolis’ rating is 4.022. All 12 comprehensive high schools in the county have index ratings above 1.70.

The complete report can be found here.