DMPS High Schools Move Up Iowa AP Index

hsapindexFor the third 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. In fact, all five high schools are in the top half of the index, with each school matching or moving up from last year’s ranking.

The 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 2014.

Roosevelt High School, ranked fourth in Iowa, is the top AP school in the Des Moines metro area and Central Academy continues to be the top AP magnet program in Iowa.

“Our students do a great job of meeting higher expectations and taking advantage of great educational opportunities. Our teaching staff has taken this challenge seriously, and demonstrated uncompromising belief in our students,” said Superintendent Tom Ahart. “The successful effort to make AP courses available for more and more DMPS students is one of several factors that are contributing to our overall success, including a strong and steady increase in our graduation rate.”

According to the 2015 Iowa AP Index, Des Moines high schools are ranked as follows:

  • Roosevelt is ranked 4th in the state, matching its highest-ever ranking on the AP Index achieved last year. Roosevelt has been among the top 50 high schools every year since the AP Index was created in 2005. The school ranked 7th in 2013.
  • Hoover is ranked 12th this year, also matching its highest-ever ranking on the AP Index achieved last year. Hoover has been among the top 50 high schools seven of the past eight years.
  • North is ranked 16th on this year’s AP Index, up from 18th last year and 28th in 2013, its first year on the AP Index.
  • Lincoln is ranked 20th in the state. Lincoln was ranked 27th last year and 30th in 2013, which was the first time since 2006 that the school was on the AP Index.
  • East is ranked 21st, up from 45th in 2014. East made the biggest gain on the Iowa AP Index of any high school in Iowa.

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 providing Advanced Placement courses for the past three decades.

Des Moines Public Schools has put a significant effort over the past few years toward 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 since 2011, including a 29% increase over the past year alone.

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





Central Academy





East High





Hoover High





Lincoln High





North High





Roosevelt High










Students in Des Moines and across the nation are taking AP exams this week and next.

“DMPS has become a national leader in removing barriers and creating opportunities so more and more students have access to college-level coursework,” said Amber Graeber, Advanced Placement Coordinator for Des Moines Public Schools. “By making access to AP courses more equitable across the district, we are meeting our goals of increasing our AP course offerings, AP enrollment and AP exam participation. Now we focus on the goal that matters most, which is ensuring greater student success.”

The Advanced Placement program was created by the College Board 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 2015 Iowa AP Index can be found at

DMPS Teachers Talk About AP Courses