Those four are: Poolesville High School (No. 47), Richard Montgomery High School (No. 87), Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (No. 92) and Winston Churchill High School (No. 100). Of Montgomery County Public Schools' 25 high schools, 23 are included in the top half of the list of more than 1,900 high schools across the country.
The list, released on Monday, April 15, ranks schools based on their students' access to challenging classes such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes.
"Our district’s strong performance on the High School Challenge indicates that we are successfully breaking down barriers and providing all students with access to meaningful, college-level classes," Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr said in a statement.
"Congratulations to our students, staff and school communities on these outstanding results," he added.
The High School Challenge is based on the Challenge Index, "a measure devised more than 15 years ago by Washington Post reporter Jay Mathews to rank high schools on their ability to effectively prepare students for college," according to a Montgomery County Public Schools statement, which added that eight of the county's public schools were among the top 10 schools in Maryland.
"MCPS is a national leader in AP participation and performance. In 2012, MCPS students took 32,974 AP exams, the most in the district’s history. Of the exams taken, 75 percent received a college-ready score of 3 or higher, an increase of more than 3 percentage points from 2011 and the highest percentage since 2006. The percentage of AP exams scoring a 3 or higher in MCPS is significantly higher than the percentage in the state of Maryland (61.4 percent) and the nation (57.3 percent)," the statement added.
Not included in the list were magnet or charter high schools "that [draw] such a high concentration of top students" that average SAT or ACT scores exceed "the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country. This year, that meant such schools had to have an average SAT score below 2000 or an average ACT score below 29.3 to be included on the list," Matthews explained on The Post's website.
"The Challenge Index is designed to identify schools that have done the best job in persuading average students to take college-level courses and tests. It does not work with schools that have no, or almost no, average students. We put those schools on our Public Elites list," he added.
For more information on how Matthews devised the scores, read the "ABC's of America's Most Challenging High Schools on The Post's website.