Where Do South Lakes and Herndon Rank?

Washington Post publishes its annual challenge index.

How do Reston-area high schools measure up?

Herndon High is No. 22 and South Lakes is No. 32 in this year's Challenge Index, the annual list of area local schools organized by education resporter Jay Mathews of The Washington Post.

 Since 1998,  Mathews has ranked Washington-area public high schools using the Challenge Index, his measure of how effectively a school prepares its students for college.  

The formula: Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors. The index is not a measure of the overall quality of the school, but the rating can reveal the level of preparing average students for college.

To see the entire list, click here.

John Farrell May 23, 2011 at 05:02 AM
Personal experience of 3 kids through SLHS with IB and one through SLHS with AP. All three were placed into IB/pre-IB classes against my explicit instructions. In each instance it was explained that they needed to fill up the class. If teachers don't have a full classes, they have to split their day between high schools. That's also why some IB classes combine SL & HL classes in one class section to get the class counts high enough.
Willem May 23, 2011 at 11:27 AM
With all due respect (and I mean that sincerely and not in the lazy sarcastic way that most people use the phrase), it seems that your objection to the program stems from the firmly held belief that the program is too challenging and daunting for students. However, it is your simultaneous assertion that the AP program is superior because it allows students to either place out of certain college courses or place into higher-level ones in the same discipline. The goal of education is not to hit the greatest number of benchmarks the fastest, but instead to challenge students in a global fashion and to help them integrate all the areas of their learning into a coherent comprehension of themselves and the world around them. In that way, the foundations for a comprehension of sociology, economics, psychology and many other disciplines are provided.
John Farrell May 23, 2011 at 12:24 PM
We disagree on the goal of education and the efficacy if IB in attaining those goals. Credentialization is exactly the goal, the rest is sophistry. What most IB students ultimately discover is that the workload is disproportionate to the rewards attainable. Check out the number of seniors taking the freshman social studies course every year after they've drop the IB social studies sequence. Those seniors are still going to good colleges. It not that IB too challenging or daunting. IB calculus isn't as tough as AP calculus. The IB social studies curriculum is Euro-centric, not global. Theory of Knowledge is a foolish attempt to introduce epistomology, a graduate level philosophy specialty, to high school students who've had no grounding in an introduction philosophy course. And IB costs FCPS more in licensing than AP. AP better fits the needs and gifts of South Lakes students. If IB is so great why aren't the parents of Langley and Madison clamoring for it and why did Woodson reject it. Those communities are hardly benighted Luddites.
Justine van Engen May 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM
1) Credentialization does not mean what you seem to think it does. Credentialism is the practice of requiring specific educational credentials for certain occupations—a practice closely related to the consolidation of professions (see profession and professionalization). In a number of contemporary sociological studies, however, credentialization refers to the form of social stratification that restricts occupational mobility by limiting it to persons who have had the advantages of extended education—a group that strongly correlates with class. If you disagree, you are welcome to borrow my copy of the OED to confirm it. 2) Questions end in question marks. 3) The person with whom you are arguing is unable to respond because he is in school busy working on his high-school diploma.
John Farrell May 23, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Justine 1) I was using the word in exactly the sense ascribed in the OED. 2) not necessarily, especially if they are rhetorical questions. On review, I find that I did miss a comma or two. Will that affect my final grade? 3) Willem had already made clear he was a SLHS student. SLHS students sometimes use computers at school to monitor this blog and respond. For example, SLHS classes start at 7:20 and Willem posted at 7:37. It's ok if we don't hear from him again until after 2:10 when I may be unable to respond but will later when I'm able. I prefer Websters to OED since we are Americans and not British.
Justine van Engen May 23, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Mr. Farrell, Thank you for the compliment but I do not determine your final grade. Good luck on that exam, though.
Aalliiee Marie May 23, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Personally, I am done dwelling on the past, more particularly on this article. I am not alive to hold grudges, and, obviously, you're gonna think what you believe; your unwillingness to relent something that I would say that I admire in you. I cannot change your opinion, just as you will find it impossible to change mine. Now, if you guys don't mind, I've got to study; I have my first SOL test tomorrow. (As long as no one gives me the opportunity to voice my opinions on NCLB, I'll pass, anyway.)
Ellen May 24, 2011 at 02:31 AM
Agree completely with John Farrell. IB benefits very few. Of course these two young students are the exception. Thank you for speaking the truth John Farrell.
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 07:04 AM
Mr. Farrell: I am sorry that you had this experience - "Personal experience of 3 kids through SLHS with IB and one through SLHS with AP. All three were placed into IB/pre-IB classes against my explicit instructions. In each instance it was explained that they needed to fill up the class.". Not sure when these events occured, however, what you describe seems to be totally opposite to the experience I have had with my two kids over the last five years. I have not heard of one case over this period either publicly or via my childrens's friends or parents, either in or out of IB, of a "forced" placement as you describe, and with no ability to switch out based on individual scholastic needs. This was also confirmed by a current SL Asst. principal. I know that many are unhappy for whatever reasons with FCPS and/or SL, but, again, based on my experience and those in our ecosystem, I do not believe that SL is run as a dictatorship.
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 07:10 AM
AM and Willem: I, for one, am extremely proud of the two of you, as well as my two kids (as well as many other hard working, and high-aspiring SL IB kids) for being good ambassadors for your school and for the IB program. Congratulations toyou and your parents, best of luck in your academic endeavors and may your dreams come true as you embark on what I do not have a doubt will be a very successful journey.
Ellen May 24, 2011 at 12:12 PM
As a former SLHS parent, my child graduaated only last year, I found the IB atmosphere a little strange and pompous. I understand that any advanced high school classes, IB or AP, are going to challenge the students who can handle them. IB should be a choice, not forced as it is in South Lakes. IB is present whether your kid is in the actual IB program or not. IB is indoctrinating unlike AP. IB has its own unique philosophy. I suppose if you agree with IB philosophy you will like the IB atmosphere. I say boot the IB program and teach subjects, not philosophy. I resent the brainwashing that goes with IB.
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 12:33 PM
I am sorry that you find the SLHS atmosphere strange and pompous. Based on the comments posted here by students, my own kids' experience, their circle of friends, teammates and fellow participants in leadership and other extracurricular activities and their parents, I have never heard that commentary or anything close to it ever being used to describe SL. On the contrary, at least within this group, the general feeling seems to be one of pride in the school. Seemingly, the ones having issues are the grownups, not the kids. IB is a CHOICE for those that decide to pursue it. For those that decide that they would rather pursue AP, there are plenty of nearby schools that offer that option. Nobody is forcing anything on anybody...this is not a dictatorship. I resent your inference that those pursuing IB courses or the IB diploma track and their parents cannot think for themselves and are not smart enough to know whether they are brainwashed or not. And if by indocrination you mean a heavy emphasis on writing and community service and being part of a global world, then I for one am fine with that. Peace.
John Farrell May 24, 2011 at 12:34 PM
My youngest graduated in 2010 and it happened to him, his siblings and his friends. Further, students were not allowed to switch out of IB classes during the first quarter. SLHS had as few 1200 students available for the IB curriculum so maybe filling the IB classes is not as difficult this year as enrollment approaches 2000 kids. Does your child tell you that kids must have an escort to go to the restroom during lunch. That they are not allowed to go to the library before class in the AM, after class in the pm or during lunch. That they must leave the building immediately after the 2:10 bell and need a note from home to ride the late bus into the office the day before. The experience of others @ SL varies widely. I'm glad you family is happy there, so far.
Ellen May 24, 2011 at 12:40 PM
All students at South Lakes are subjected to the IB curriculum, approach, whatever you want to call it. That is what I said. Even the regular classes are taught from an IB perspective. I have a suggestion for you Bert. YOU go choose a "nearby" school. Now I will shut up or else Karen will threaten to delete my comments. Once in a while I need to stand up to the IB parents.
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Yes, my child tells me there are certain rules to be followed...and even though some rules amy not be palatapble to me and/or others, I am sure there is a good reason for most/all of them. I am also absolutely sure that some of these rules are specific to South Lakes, and equally sure that everybody can not do whatever they want to do at every other school. Even in our democracy there are certain rules and regulations that are not truly agreed to by all, but must be followed never the less...i.e. paying taxes, not speeding, etc. Again, sorry that your kids apparently had a miserable experience at SL. Virtually all the kids/families are at worst indifferent, but the great majority of our friends and acquaintances are happy at SL.
John Farrell May 24, 2011 at 12:45 PM
No doubt the 4% for whom IB works are happy. But for the rest, it's not a choice. IB drives the entire course offerings at SLHS and limits the choices of those who don't want IB. There's also a distinct atmosphere of preference toward those in the IB diploma program. Why should Reston families who want AP be forced to abandon their local high and friends so that a small minority can have IB curriculum that serves their preference? Why shouldn't they go to an academy program and let the rest of the kids go to an Reston AP school.?
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Well, I guess that this is not one that we will settle...and I am sorry Stacy that you are making this personal on the basis of your comments. I am taking the liberty of (re)quoting/posting my young friend AM... "Personally, I am done dwelling on the past, more particularly on this article. I am not alive to hold grudges, and, obviously, you're gonna think what you believe; ... I cannot change your opinion, just as you will find it impossible to change mine." You seem angry and begrudging... I hope that at some point you will find inner peace. Off to focus on more productive things. Shalom
John Farrell May 24, 2011 at 01:01 PM
And out of 2000 SLHS families, how many are in your circle, and how many are not in the IB track? Sociologists tell us we tend to only travel among those who agree with us. If kids can't use the library before or after school, or during lunch, why have a library at SLHS? Trailers are coming back. Did you see they've paved a part of the front lawn? Maybe the library should be converted to class room space <snark>. My youngest was miserable, especially after his friend, Josh Anderson, died. They'll all survive. But their high school didn't meet their needs. I'm glad it met yours and your friends.
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 01:20 PM
John...thank you for the civil debate...I enjoye it. My last reply...not sure how many kids/families we know...I can say that between my two kids, soccer team, gymnastics team, classes, etc and via new social networking tools between the two of them they probably interacted in some fashion or another with a several hundred kids. As for mix, because my daughter was taking certificate courses and because of my son's friends have been made on the soccer team (i.e. not all academic friends), there is a fairly-wide mix of IB vs. not-IB...though the majority are probably not IB kids. Thank you for your wishes for my kids. Best to you and yours as they move on in the world.. Truce. Bert
John Farrell May 24, 2011 at 01:29 PM
You've spoken to "several hundred" SLHS families about the comparative merits of IB v. AP? And the majority were not IB. Wow
Bert Katz May 24, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Not what I said...said that my kids have interacted with several hundred kids and/or families... and "Virtually all the(se) kids/families are at worst indifferent, but the great majority of our friends and acquaintances are happy at SL."... "I (or my kids) have never heard that commentary (i.e. SL IB atmosphere being pompous and strange) or anything close to it ever being used to describe SL. On the contrary, at least within this group, the general feeling seems to be one of pride in the school."... "I have not heard of one case over this period either publicly or via my childrens's friends or parents, either in or out of IB, of a "forced" placement as you describe, and with no ability to switch out based on individual scholastic needs."
Humble Parent May 24, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Is everyone talking about the same school? I have a freshman who LOVES the school. I'm sure we can find something to complain about in every Fairfax County school. I teach my children that your feelings and opinions are all valid...it is what you do about them that counts. AM - Kudos to you!!!
Ellen May 24, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Humble parent. You sound defensive. Why be defensive if SL is so great because of IB?
John Farrell May 24, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Absolutely. I've had a child at SLHS from 1996, almost continually, until 2010. I find it takes a year or two for parents to understand the less than panglossian perspective. But the longer they deal with SLHS the more sympathetic to our point of view most parents become.
Thomasina May 30, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Not to rain on anyone's parade or anything, but I can't help but sit here and laugh. Do you adults hear how ridiculous you sound? I mean, come on, how old are you? You sound like a bunch of children who don't want to share their crayons. Have you noticed that the only people on here who don't like South Lakes are the adults? Obviously the kids love - and take pride - in their school. You all complain about how much your kids aren't learning at South Lakes, but they aren't the ones on here bashing each other and saying a bunch of things that aren't true - so obviously South Lakes is teaching them SOMETHING right. It doesn't really matter what any of you say or think, there are plenty of us that LOVE South Lakes and wouldn't choose any other school! So if South Lakes is so bad, do us all a favor, DO SOMETHING about it; don't just sit here all day, every day complaining.
Nicole May 30, 2011 at 04:39 PM
You know parents...the Ivy League looks highly at IB. AP? have you taken OUR IB tests? it takes more sophistication and effort for an IB test. and the reason why many kids do not receive the IB diploma is because they don't give a a crap for the IB exams. so, don't complain about the SCHOOL, you should complain about the lack of motivation your kids have. I'm a senior at SL, I've done ALL my work throughout high school, I'm a full on IB diploma student. ANYONE can be an IB student. Students have the choice to be one or not. So, if your kid chooses to be one, good for them. It's going to help YOUR kids in the end because of all the writing we've done throughout school. Don't sit here on your butts and complain. Because of IB, I KNOW college will be a breeze for me. I'll no longer have to pull all nighters in my life writing a paper because I'll know how to write a good paper. AP can't teach you that. AP can only teach you how to choose the "best" answer out of the choices they give you. If you don't want your kids exposed to the wonderful program known as IB, then please leave SL :D
James May 30, 2011 at 06:11 PM
John, While I am sorry to hear that your children were "forced" to take IB courses against your instructions, but from my and what seems to be many commenting perspective, this simply is not the case for most students. As for who I am, I am a South Lakes alumni that graduated in 2010 like your child. Nobody at South Lakes are forced to take IB courses. If you a referring to the college level courses, such as calculus (known as IB Math in SLHS), and that IB is the only option for these higher level courses, this is because the school itself is an IB school. I could say the same about AP schools, they are limiting my higher level courses to only AP. If this is the case I would say going to another nearby high school would be the best option, since in the FCPS system the only higher level courses offered are strictly AP or IB. You also mentioned that your children could not switch out of IB courses they are taking till after 1st quarter. This is the school's policy on switching out of any class, not just IB courses. I believe this policy is in place in order to make registration for classes go more smoothly. The policy is also in place to keep students from switching out during the first week or so, when they have barely experience what the class will be like for the year. Please keep in mind this policy is in place once classes have started and anytime before they are free to switch. (My comment is rather long and will continue in the next post).
James May 30, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I personally had a similair issue and got it worked out over the summer through email with a counselor. Also John, please back up your statistics you are using in your comments with concrete sources and evidence. I am not saying your stating incorrect facts, but I would like to see where these numbers are originating from. Do not ask me to go and ask conselors and to look for the sources myself, since the burden of evidence is on you. (You are making these claims, I am not). Such as "less than 20% of Reston kids go to Herndon," and your other claims that, "For 96% of South Lakes kids, IB doesn't work." And please dont make this personal with comments such as, "My youngest was miserable, especially after his friend, Josh Anderson, died." That was simply uncalled for and disrespectful to Josh since his death is in no way relevant to why SLHS is responsible for the "miserable" experience your child had. (An experience many students would not agree with, including myself and much of the class of 2010 I was close friends with.) As for the IB vs AP debate, it is simply an opinion as to which curriculum is better for students. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. From my personal experience, IB has much better prepared me for college than the AP curriculum would have for me. (And that college is NYU if you are curious). Not once did I have to pull an all-nighter to get a paper or report done for any of my college courses this year, and had a successful first year.
Nicole May 30, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Also, Reston has 3 different zip codes...20194, 20190, 20191. 20194 go to Herndon 20190 and 20191 go to South Lakes and RIP Josh Anderson
Gabriella May 30, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Guys. Almost the entire class of 2010 went to good Virginia Universities. There were also a handful of students who got accepted into ivy league schools. Why? Because these kids took IB courses, or went for the full diploma. Please get your facts together because an emotional argument does not always win.


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