CJ among America's "Most Challenging"

For the fourth consecutive year, Chaminade Julienne has been named as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools on the private high school list  by The Washington Post. The ranking is used to identify schools that challenge all students, according to Jay Matthews, author of the rankings and journalist for the newspaper.

Principal John Marshall ’86 said that while the recognition for Chaminade Julienne is rewarding, all ranking should be understood within context and perspective.

“The Washington Post indicates that we have a strong Advanced Placement (AP) program. We do, but the ranking does not reveal the large number of students who are welcomed to enroll in these top courses at CJ.

“We give more students the opportunity to push themselves by taking these courses, even if trends predict from the onset that they will not earn a top score on the exams,” said Marshall. “It speaks to the fact that we work with each of our students in exploring their interests and setting goals that continue to challenge them.”

Top scores on the exams can earn students college credits. During the 2014-2015 school year, 190 students enrolled in nine AP courses offered, with nearly half enrolled in more than one AP course. While mostly juniors and seniors enroll in AP classes, sophomore students have the opportunity to enroll in an AP American Studies course.

“The AP option is something that prospective families ask me about,” said Brett Chmiel '02, director of admissions. “CJ gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves beyond what some may consider their 'capacity.' We believe in students who believe in themselves."

CJ Challenge Index

Matthews uses a ranking system based on a challenge index. The index formula is determined by a school's total number of AP, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given each year divided by the number of seniors who graduate each spring. Since 2012, CJ's Challenge Index score has continued to rise.

America's Most Challenging High Schools- The Washington Post
Year CJ Challenge Index
2012 1.593
2013 1.656
2014 1.684
2015 1.826

Chaminade Julienne has received national recognition for pioneering and implementing Project Lead the Way curriculum, which also earns students college credit in engineering and bio medical sciences. Marshall sent a request to Matthews to consider including data from those student participants in the most recent list.

While this year's rankings did not include that data, Marshall said giving students opportunities to enroll in college course level classes has driven the student body to achieve even more academically.

"I'm proud that our teachers and academic program have afforded students many opportunities to work harder, and our students continue to choose to do that. Some would think by offering more advancement courses, such as the Project Lead the Way curriculum, that enrollment in AP courses would decline. However, we have seen an increase in students participating in AP courses year after year."