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Quaker Valley earns spot in national rankings

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Quaker Valley High School is among the nation's top high schools, according to research done at The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report.

At No. 1,092 of 1,999, Quaker Valley is one of eight Western Pennsylvania schools named to the Post's Most Challenging High Schools annual ranking, formerly organized by Newsweek.

Quaker Valley ranked No. 11 of 28 in Pennsylvania. Rankings were based on participation in college-level testing.

Principal Andrew Surloff said he's proud of the school's accomplishment.

“The commitment of our students and our teachers to this high-level, challenging coursework is to be commended,” he said.

The school also placed in the top 3 percent across the country in the U.S. News & World Report's Best High Schools list, the magazine announced last week.

Last year, 187 Quaker Valley students completed 349 Advanced Placement, or AP, exams, earning a 91 percent pass rate, according to high school academic specialist Linda Conlon.

This was the highest pass rate in the last five years, according to data Conlon provided the Sewickley Herald.

In 2008, 110 students took 202 AP exams with a 76 percent pass rate.

Students must achieve a 3 or higher in a 1-5 scoring scale to pass an AP exam.

Based on the AP test results from May 2012, 62 Quaker Valley High School students earned the designation of AP Scholar — including four National AP Scholars.

More than half of the class of 2012 completed and passed at least one AP exam during their high school career, district leaders said.

Only three Western Pennsylvania schools ranked higher — Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie; Pine-Richland; and South Fayette. North Allegheny, Hampton, North Hills and Blackhawk also made the list.

Post reporter Jay Mathews, who created the index used, said AP and other rigor-based exams “are important because they give average students a chance to experience the trauma of heavy college reading lists and long, analytical college examinations.”

“Research has found that even low-performing students who got only a 2 on an AP test did significantly better in college than similar students who did not take AP.”

Quaker Valley offers 18 AP courses open to all students, and requires students complete each exam, “which makes our pass rate amazing,” Conlon said. “Requiring the test of all students — rather than just the best-prepared among them — gives us high quality assessment data” that helps to improve curriculum and instruction.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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