Four Schools Among Top 25 Advanced Placement Schools in State

For the seventh year in a row, all five comprehensive high schools at Des Moines Public Schools are listed among the state’s top 50 high schools on the Iowa Advanced Placement Index, along with special honors for Central Academy.

The 2019 Iowa AP Index, compiled and released by the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education at the University of Iowa, ranks how well Iowa high schools provide students with the opportunity to take college-level Advanced Placement courses. The rankings are based on the number of AP exams taken by students compared to the number of graduates from the spring of 2018. A total of 2,718 AP Exams were taken by DMPS students in 2018, the highest number ever.

Four DMPS high schools are among the state’s top 25 with Roosevelt being ranked 4th followed by Lincoln (15),  North (16), and East (24).

In addition, while “magnet schools” are not ranked in the Top 50 list, Central Academy was once again singled out for special mention by the Belin-Blank Center as a leader in providing Advanced Placement opportunities for students. Central Academy has been recognized as a state and national leader in teaching AP courses for more than three decades.

“Once again, our students and teachers deserve a great deal of credit for stepping up to the challenge of taking and teaching college-level courses,” said Superintendent Tom Ahart. “Our work to expand AP courses, making them available to more students throughout Des Moines, is just one of many examples of how DMPS strives for education equity and is becoming the national model for urban education.”

According to the most recent Iowa AP Index, DMPS high schools are ranked as follows:

  • Roosevelt is ranked 4th in the state, and has been among the top 50 high schools every year since the AP Index was created in 2005. The school ranked 6th in 2018, 4th in 2017, 2nd in 2016, 4th in 2015 and 2014, and 7th in 2013.
  • Lincoln is ranked 15th in the state, up from 17th last year, and equal to its highest-ever ranking on the AP Index in 2017. Lincoln was ranked 18th in 2016, 20th in 2015, 27th in 2014 and 30th in 2013, which was the first time since 2006 that the school was on the AP Index.
  • North is ranked 16th on this year’s AP Index, down slightly from last year’s 15th position. North was ranked 11th in 2017, 4th in 2016, and came in at 16th in 2015, 18th in 2014 and 28th in 2013, its first year on the AP Index.
  • East is ranked 24th on this year’s AP Index, up significantly being 50th last year, 44th in 2017 and 41st in 2016. East was 21st in 2015, 45th in 2014, and 36th in 2013, its first year on the AP Index.
  • Hoover is ranked 40th this year, down from 19th last year and 17th each of the previous two years. Hoover has been among the top 50 high schools eleven of the past twelve years.

DMPS has put a significant effort over the past few years into expanding AP course offerings at all five comprehensive high schools. Enrollment in AP courses has more than quadrupled and the number of AP exams taken by DMPS students has increased two-and-a-half times in the past six years.

“DMPS has been very deliberate in our work to remove barriers that may have existed to AP courses and providing greater access to this college-level coursework for all high school students,” said Amber Graeber, Advanced Placement Coordinator for Des Moines Public Schools. “Our goal of increasing AP course offerings, AP enrollment, and AP exam participation is being realized.”

The following table shows the number of AP exams taken at all five comprehensive high schools plus Central Academy in each of the past seven years:

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
East 18 228 163 370 241 241 251 421
Hoover 49 133 242 238 213 258 188 146
Lincoln 69 220 268 422 477 576 471 542
North 38 125 200 328 460 405 327 324
Roosevelt 181 301 352 486 585 605 506 686
SUBTOTAL 355 1,007 1,225 1,844 1,976 2,085 1,743 2,119
Central Academy 716 770 774 713 602 587 582 599
TOTAL 1,071 1,777 1,999 2,557 2,578 2,672 2,325 2,718

This spring, more than 3,000 AP exams were given at Des Moines Public Schools.

The College Board created the Advanced Placement program in 1955 to offer a college-level curriculum and examination to high school students. Many colleges and universities provide credit to students who score a 3 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) on the AP exam.

Additional information about the 2019 Iowa AP Index can be found at

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