New elementary and middle school rankings take a deeper look at test scores

New rankings of the nation's best elementary and middle schools consider demographics and other factors within individual states.

New rankings of the nation’s best elementary and middle schools are, not surprisingly, based on math and reading tests. And the publisher of the list, U.S. News & World Report, attempts to assess testing performance based on demographics and other factors within individual states.

“This process resembles, to a degree, how education administrators and researchers consider school performance,” U.S. News said in revealing its rankings for 2024.

But the rankings—which are based on 2020-2021 assessment results—also give weight to the scores unadjusted for demographics because “parents value environments where most children arrive prepared to learn and teachers can provide a culture of enrichment,” U.S. News stated.

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Certainly, nonacademic factors also matter in evaluating schools, but in this space we are measuring what can be fairly measured, and the academic performance of their children’s schools is generally of high importance to families,” the publication added.

Some 45,236 elementary schools and 22,053 middle schools were ranked, representing about 77% of public schools with elementary and middle school grades. But unlike its college and high school rankings, U.S. News did not produce a single master list of the top elementary and middle schools in the U.S. Rather, it compares schools only within each state.

U.S. News notes that it could not update its data for California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, and the rankings reflect 2018-2019 assessment data.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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