Six Green Dot High School Ranked Among Nation’s Most Challenging to Students

Washington Post’s Challenge Index measures which schools provide most opportunity for students to take tough courses that help prepare them for college

LOS ANGELES – Six Green Dot Public Schools high schools are among the top 2% most challenging to their students in the country, according to the Challenge Index, a survey by the Washington Post that measures the level of opportunity students have to take tougher courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate.

Ánimo Venice, Oscar de la Hoya Ánimo, Ánimo Leadership, Ánimo Inglewood are among the top 1% most challenging. Ánimo South Los Angeles and Ánimo Ralph Bunche are both just outside the top 1%. The Post lists Ánimo Venice as the 74th most challenging in the U.S.

“We find over and over again that when we set high expectations for students – and across the organization, hold ourselves accountable to high expectations in supporting our students – they can achieve great things and exceed those expectations,” said Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot Public Schools National CEO. “We know the value of having students take tough courses. We’ve seen how they best prepare students to succeed in college or in work after they graduate.”

The Washington Post’s Challenge Index is determined by taking the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given each year at a school. That number is then divided by the number of seniors who graduate. With just a few exceptions, schools that gave as many tests as they had students graduate make the list, which in total accounts for about 11% of all American high schools. The Challenge Index is overseen by longtime Post education columnist Jay Mathews.

“A survey I did as part of the latest Washington Post America’s Most Challenging High Schools list — the 2015 edition was released Sunday night — shows many schools still keep average students out of their best courses even though research shows they do better in college when given that opportunity,” Mathews wrote in a column accompanying the survey results.

Nationally, Oscar de la Hoya Ánimo ranks 138th most challenging, Ánimo Leadership 142nd,  Ánimo Inglewood 208th, Ánimo South Los Angeles 238th and Ánimo Ralph Bunche 272nd from a list of about 2,300 schools.

Providing both challenge and opportunity for students is at the heart of Green Dot’s Core Values, said Dr. Cristina de Jesus, Chief Executive Officer of Green Dot Public Schools California. Those values include: an unwavering belief in all students’ potential; personal responsibility; a passion for excellence, respect for others and the communities we serve; and demonstrating how all stakeholders are critical in the education process.

“There are few things better than seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of students who have met a challenge they weren’t sure they could conquer,” de Jesus said. “Each time, they get more confident and better prepared for what comes next. Challenging our students is just one way we help prepare them for college, leadership and life.”

Last year, Green Dot graduated more than 1,500 students, the most of any charter school organization in the nation. During its 15-year history, Green Dot schools have graduated more than 8,000 students with more than 90% being accepted to college. Green Dot currently is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

An independent study by UCLA found that Green Dot students are nearly four times more likely to graduate and be ready for college than students at neighboring schools. A separate UCLA study found that Green Dot’s high schools significantly lower a variety of serious risky behavior among students through increased retention and improved academic outcomes.