Washington DC is one of the most desirable markets for real estate in the entire country. And no wonder. Besides the proximity to the job opportunities in the area, there is so much to love about DC. Museums, historical sites, natural beauties, and more contribute to the incredible richness of this part of the mid-Atlantic.
One of the biggest draws, though, and one of the primary drivers of residential real estate in the area is the quality of the schools here. Through the DMV, there is an incredible emphasis on excellence in public schools. This is driven, in part, by the many well-educated people who live and work in the area and who expect the best for their children’s education. It is also driven by the diversity of the area and the many people who move to DC in order to ensure opportunity for themselves and a world-class education for their children.
Because there is such an emphasis on education here, the Washington Post, and in particular columnist Jay Mathews, writes extensively about education. They especially emphasize schools nationally with very high academic standards in creating their “America’s Most Challenging High Schools List.” As you might imagine, many DC schools feature prominently on this list, which takes into account how many students were challenged with AP, IB, and Cambridge tests during their academic careers, creating a formula called the Challenge Index.
Here then are the top Five secondary schools in DC, based on The Challenge Index.
- Washington International (Website)
This private school has 900+ students and runs from Preschool through Grade 12. Students participate in the International Baccalaureate program, experience language immersion and dual-language education in pre-school through Elementary, then continue in an IB Diploma program by the time they finish high school. This rigorous academic schedule is accompanied by an active sports, community service, study abroad, and activities schedule. Their mission statement conveys their desire to help their students become “responsible and effective world citizens,” and this is reflected in the international character of the educational program.
- School Without Walls (Website)
Located on the campus of George Washington University, with whom the school partners, School Without Walls is a public magnet high school. Because of their partnership with GW, select students are able to spend their junior and senior years as full-time GW students, earning both a high school diploma from SWW and an Associate of Arts degree from George Washington University. Their mission statement emphasizes both their academic rigor and their emphasis on the humanities, providing a global focus while offering opportunities for experience-based and multi-disciplinary learning.
- Banneker (Website)
Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is an alternative public school offering rigorous and varied academics, including both AP and IB programs. The focus here is on learning and academics, coupled with a desire to empower students for future leadership roles, global competition, and regard for the community welfare. To this end, they offer a Community Laboratory Volunteer Program, which requires students to complete a minimum of 270 volunteer hours during their four years of high school.
- Columbia Heights (Website)
Starting as the Multicultural Career Intern Program in 1979, Columbia Heights has grown into a grades 6-12 secondary school with an extraordinary reputation. It does not require and entrance exam and 100% of the students here qualify for free and reduced lunches, yet students here achieve at the highest levels academically. Such programs as The Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, a World Cultures program, Dual Language Immersion, Empowering Males of Color, and other programs ensure a variety of community building and academically empowering enrichment opportunities.
- National Cathedral (Website)
Founded in 1900, this girls school “is dedicated to preparing young women for a world that needs their wisdom, their curiosity, their variety—their power.” That’s a tall order, but results speak for themselves. Small class sizes, a teaching and learning center, and a highly regarded athletic program speak to the all-around excellence of the school. Co-educational opportunities with brother school St. Albans allow students the best of both single-gender and co-ed experiences.
People in DC love their kids, and often neighborhood choice is driven by school choice. With extraordinary, world-class schools like these to choose from, DC residents truly have an embarrassment of riches. Know which school you want for your children? Let your Eng Garcia Grant Realtor create a custom search driven by proximity to the school of your choice. We want to ensure that your next move is the right one for the whole family, and that the best schools in DC are well within reach.