A dozen of Utah's high schools are among the top 1,350 schools in the nation for the number of students in AP and IB programs, according to Newsweek magazine.

The rankings are based on a ratio that takes the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007, divided by the number of graduating seniors at the school.

Education leaders partly attribute the schools' successes to the state's family-oriented culture.

"It's said that students' success is directly related to how many significant adults kids have in their lives," said Kathy Evans, vice principal at Davis High School. "I think our culture in Utah provides a lot of significant adults that take an interest in kids."

Salt Lake City's West High School, which has the state's oldest IB program, had the highest ranking in the state, 282nd.

Three of the schools on the list are from Davis School District. Chris Williams, spokesman for the district, said three basic factors have contributed to the schools' success: motivated students, high expectations from home and quality teachers.

He said that for students to engage in AP courses, they have to be self-motivated and driven — something Davis seems to have a lot of.

Parental expectations are also important because they help instill motivation in students, while quality teachers are able to further motivate the students to pass the tests.

"(The Newsweek designation) is a hard reputation to keep up for the schools, but they do it and hats off to each one in those three groups," Williams said.

The Newsweek's Challenge Index is designed to recognize schools that challenge average students, not magnet or charter schools that draw only the best students in their areas, according to a statement by the magazine.


E-mail: terickson@desnews.com