New leader tops list of best high schools in the U.S.

Last year's No. 1 on the list of best high schools slipped to No. 16 this year. This year's No. 1 ranked 12th in 2023.

A new No. 1 high school has soared to the top of the list of the best in the U.S. According to U.S. News & World Report, the best high schools are those that educate students from all social and economic backgrounds by exposing them to rigorous coursework and that beat expectations in math, reading and science assessments.

Before the big reveal, let’s look at the six categories that U.S. News & World Report uses to rank the schools on the 2024 list released Tuesday. College readiness—based on the number of a school’s 12th graders who earned a qualifying score on an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam—accounts for the biggest portion (30%) of the ranking.

State Assessment proficiency and performance both account for one-fifth of the score. Proficiency measures whether students are meeting math, reading and science benchmarks. Performance compares the total assessment scores with what U.S. News predicted for a school based on its demographic characteristics.

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The rankings also consider graduation rate, college curriculum breadth and performance of underserved Black, Hispanic and low-income students.

A few more notes: Last year’s No. 1 on the list of best high schools, The Early College at Guilford, slipped to No. 16 this year. This year’s No. 1 ranked 12th in 2023. And, four new schools jumped into the top 10.

Here is the top 20 (along with their districts or charter operators):

  1. BASIS Peoria, BASIS Charter Schools Inc. (Arizona)
  2. Signature School, Signature School Inc. (Evansville, Ind.)
  3. Tesla STEM High School, Lake Washington School District (Redmond, Wash.)
  4. Julia R. Masterman Secondary School, The School District of Philadelphia
  5. Payton College Preparatory High School, Chicago Public Schools
  6. The School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas Independent School District
  7. Academic Magnet High School, Charleston County School District (South Carolina)
  8. International Academy, Oakland Schools (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
  9. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Gwinnett County School District ( Lawrenceville, Ga.)
  10. Riverside Stem Academy, Riverside Unified School District (California)
  11. Whitney High School, ABC Unified School District (Cerritos, Calif.)
  12. Science Academy Stem Magnet, Los Angeles Unified School District
  13. International Academy of Macomb, Chippewa Valley Schools (Clinton Township, Mich.)
  14. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Fairfax County Public Schools (Alexandria, Va.)
  15. Haas Hall Bentonville, Haas Hall Academy (Bentonville, Ark.)
  16. The Early College at Guilford, Guilford County Schools (Greensboro, N.C.)
  17. BASIS Oro Valley, BASIS Charter Schools Inc. (Arizona)
  18. Pine View School, Sarasota County Schools (Osprey, Fla.)
  19. Central Magnet School, Rutherford County Schools (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
  20. Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and 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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