Five High Schools on Iowa AP Index for 5th Year in a Row

For the fifth 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.

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 2016.

Roosevelt High School continues to be the top AP school in the Des Moines metro area, and is ranked fourth in the state. North, Lincoln and Hoover high schools are all in the top 20. Overall, 2016 saw the largest number of AP exams ever taken by DMPS students.

“Our students and teachers deserve a great deal of credit over the past several years 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 students throughout Des Moines, is just one example of how DMPS 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 2nd in 2016, 4th in 2015 and 2014, and 7th in 2013.
  • North is ranked 11th on this year’s AP Index, down from last year’s 4th position but ahead of ranking 16th in 2015, 18th in 2014 and 28th in 2013, its first year on the AP Index.
  • Lincoln is ranked 15th in the state, its highest-ever ranking on the AP Index. Lincoln was ranked 18th last year, 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.
  • Hoover is ranked 17th this year, its same position as last year and down slightly from being 12th on the AP Index in 2015 and 2014. Hoover has been among the top 50 high schools nine of the past ten years.
  • East is ranked 44th on this year’s AP Index, down slightly from being 41st last year. East was 21st in 2015, 45th in 2014, and 36th in 2013, its first year on the AP Index.

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.

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 and Scavo High School in each of the past five years:

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Central Academy 669 737 773 731 602 587
East 18 228 163 370 241 241
Hoover 49 133 242 238 213 258
Lincoln 69 220 268 422 477 575
North 38 125 200 328 460 405
Roosevelt 181 391 352 486 574 605
Scavo 0 0 0 0 1 1
TOTAL 1,024 1,834 1,998 2,575 2,568 2,672

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 2017 Iowa AP Index can be found at