South Side High School in Rockville Centre was one of...

South Side High School in Rockville Centre was one of five Long Island school's to make The Washington Post's annual list of the most challenging schools in the nation. Credit: Tara Conry

Five Long Island high schools ranked among the most challenging in the nation, according to an annual list compiled by The Washington Post.

Locust Valley, the only one to crack the top 100, came in 80th. Jericho ranked 130th, South Side High School in Rockville Centre came in at 136 and Manhasset ranked 142nd.

The Wheatley School in Old Westbury held on to the top 200 by coming in at 199.

The schools were ranked based on the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given each year divided by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June, according to the Post.

Also noted are the percentage of students qualifying for free lunch and each school's average scores on the SAT.

"With a few exceptions," the Post story said, public schools that "had as many tests in 2014 as they had graduates, were put on the national list."

The 2015 rankings were based on 2014 data.

Area schools had mixed reactions with some joyful about their inclusion and others questioning the lists' value.

"We are really excited," Locust Valley school superintendent Anna Hunderfund said. "It means that we are preparing the students well for their collegiate studies."

Hunderfund said 95 percent of the school's graduates go to college, which she said shows that early exposure to university-level material bolsters success later on.

Locust Valley encourages students to take tough courses, she said, regardless of academic or economic background.

Twenty percent of its students are on free or reduced lunch or speak English as a second language, Hunderfund said. Both groups can be counted among the test takers.

"It's amazing what kids will accomplish when you give them support and encouragement" she said.

Wheatley school Principal Sean Feeney said he doesn't place much credence in national rankings.

The list is "not something we get too excited or worried about," he said.

Among New York state high schools, Locust Valley ranked second, Jericho sixth, South Side eighth, Manhasset ninth, and Wheatley 12th.Long Island did similarly well last year when seven schools -- Jericho, Locust Valley, South Side, Manhasset, Cold Spring Harbor, Wheatley and Syosset -- made the top 200.

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