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Local High Schools Make Washington Post List of the State's Most Challenging

Four schools in Capo and four in Saddleback Valley make the cut.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
Four of Capistrano Unified's six comprehensive high schools made the Washington Post's latest list for the state's most challenging schools.

Out of 295 top schools considering challenging in California, Aliso Niguel came out ahead of the others, at No. 124. San Clemente High was right behind at No. 125. Tesoro itself was just a couple of ticks away at No. 131. Capistrano Valley High checked in at 154.

Meanwhile, four schools in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District made the list: Laguna Hills at No. 185, Mission Viejo at 207, Trabuco Hills at 286 and El Toro barley squeaking in at 293. 

To come up with the list of the nation’s most challenging high schools, the folks at the Post kept their calculation simple:

Number of college-level tests given at a school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates that year.

Not that this methodology isn’t without controversy, especially because it doesn’t assign rank based on those who pass the exams, only by the number of those who take them.

But if you’re ready to take the list at face value, here’s where the schools stand. 

Oxford Academy, a charter school in Cypress, is Orange County’s top school on the list, No. 3 statewide. 

For context, there are 1,304 public high schools in the state. There are another 268 charter high schools, according to figures from the California Department of Education. 

Here’s the rest of Orange County-based high schools that made the list:

  • Sage Hill, a private school, in Newport Beach (No. 9)
  • Troy High School in Fullerton (No. 17)
  • University in Irvine (No. 37)
  • Santa Margarita Catholic High School, a private school in Rancho Santa Margarita (No. 43)
  • Beckman in Irvine (No. 44)
  • Corona del Mar (No. 47)
  • Sunny Hills in Fullerton (No. 49)
  • Rosary, a private school in Fullerton (No. 58)
  • Orange County High School for the Arts in Santa Ana (No. 60)
  • Northwood in Irvine (No. 81)
  • Valencia in Placentia (No. 91)
  • Newport Harbor in Newport Beach (No. 94)
  • Woodbridge in Irvine (No. 116)
  • Costa Mesa (No. 121)
  • Fountain Valley (No. 122)
  • Aliso Niguel in Aliso Viejo (No. 124)
  • San Clemente (No. 125)
  • Tesoro in Las Flores (No. 131)
  • Foothill in Santa Ana (No. 136)
  • Irvine (No. 143)
  • Fullerton Union (No. 148)
  • Villa Park (No. 149)
  • Capistrano Valley in Mission Viejo (No. 154)
  • Yorba Linda (No. 155)
  • La Habra (No. 170)
  • Esperanza in Anaheim (No. 173)
  • Los Alamitos (No. 178)
  • Ocean View in Huntington Beach (No. 179)
  • Laguna Hills (No. 185)
  • Buena Park (No. 189)
  • Mater Dei, a private school in Santa Ana (No. 190)
  • Mission Viejo (No. 207)
  • Westminster (No. 214)
  • Sonora in La Habra (No. 229)
  • El Dorado in Placentia (No. 257)
  • Estancia in Costa Mesa (No. 281)
  • Trabuco Hills in Mission Viejo (No. 286)
  • El Toro in Lake Forest (No. 293)

Dawn Urbanek April 24, 2014 at 01:30 PM
Shelly every child in CUSD receives the same ADA - for this year it was $6,500 base grant and a $273 Supplemental Grant. Total $6,773. When District revenues cannot pay for things like supplies, class size reduction art, music, science programs etc. Then PTA's Booster CLubs and Foundations pick up the slack through Fundraising. We have schools in our District who cannot raise the same amount of "extra" revenue as others - so the poorer schools in affluent Districts simply go without. If you read through the Donations of Funds on the CUSD Board Agendas you will see the same names over and over and you will also see that some schools have little to no donations. That is why the Base funding grant needs to be high enough to provide a basic education for every student.
shelly April 24, 2014 at 02:58 PM
Dawn, "Under the terms of the finance system, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, districts can receive additional funds for every high-needs student enrolled – as much as $3,000 per student once the formula is fully funded over the next eight years. High-needs students are defined as students who are low-income, English learners or foster youth, with low-income being the dominant category of need."
shelly April 24, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Dawn, "Provides a supplemental grant equal to 20 percent of the adjusted base grant for targeted disadvantaged students. Targeted students are those classified as English learners (EL), eligible to receive a free or reduced-price meal (FRPM), foster youth, or any combination of these factors (unduplicated count)."
shelly April 24, 2014 at 03:10 PM
Dawn, Dawn, And what you do not know is there are many people who volunteer and give to schools that are in need even though their kids go to a different schools, or they do not have kids in school. It is called a community.

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