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STEM tops list of PA's most challenging high schools

The Downingtown STEM Academy, DHS East and DHS West all appear on the Washington Post’s newly released 2017 elite list of America’s Most Challenging High School programs. Only 35 Pennsylvania high schools achieved this honor with DASD being the only multi-high school Pennsylvania school district to have all of its district high schools nationally ranked.


The report looked at public and private high schools nationwide and ranked them based on the academic rigor of the schools’ curriculum as well as the fact that academically rigorous curricula was being utilized by all students, not just academically elite students. The Post filtered the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year.  That number was then divided by the number of graduating seniors. Then only schools with a ratio of 1.000 or higher became eligible for Post’s ranking. Fewer than 7 percent of the approximately 37,000 public and private high schools in America qualified for this very prestigious list. 


“We are very pleased to have all three of our high schools once again make this Washington Post list of America’s Most Challenging High School Programs,” said Dr. Lawrence Mussoline, Downingtown Area School District Superintendent of Schools.  “Our teachers, administrators and school board have worked hard to create an innovative and challenging curriculum utilized by and available for all students.  We have increased AP course offerings at DHS East and DHS West with more students than ever taking these more rigorous courses and that decision is paying off with accolades like this.  Our magnet STEM Academy program is one of the largest International Baccalaureate (IB) high schools in America, now with hundreds of our graduates possessing both a DASD and an IB Diploma.”


According to the Washington Post, the Downingtown STEM Academy is Pennsylvania’s most academically challenging high school for the third straight year with DHS East listed at #19 and DHS West #29th in the Commonwealth.  There are currently 952 public high schools in Pennsylvania of which only 35 made this ranking.  


Nationally, the STEM Academy was ranked #119 of the 2,369 schools ranked by the Post, placing the STEM Academy in the top 5% of the most academically rigorous high schools in the nation. In fact, the next closet Pennsylvania high school to our STEM Academy was Julia Masterman High School in Philadelphia with a ranking of #268.  All three Downingtown High School programs improved their national rankings from last year.


“Congratulations to our students and staff on this recognition,” said DASD School Board President Colleen Cranney. “We are very proud of our elementary, middle, and high school principals and teachers since they all played a part in positioning Downingtown as a nationally recognized school system with high academic standards for all students. We thank them and we thank our community for their continued support of our district mission and vision.”