15 best high schools in the country: Rankings spotlight progress of underserved students

Other categories in U.S. News' latest rankings are college readiness, reading and math performance, and college-level curriculum.
By: | April 26, 2022
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An elite K-12 education is not limited by geography: The 15 best high schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report Tuesday, represent 14 states. And in a sign that district leaders and their teams are making progress on equity, the performance of underserved students is one of six key factors in the ratings of more than 17,800 schools.

The other five categories in the 2022 best high school rankings are college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. College readiness, for instance, measures how many students passed Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. Underserved student performance gauges progress made by students who are Black, Hispanic, or from low-income households.

The rankings are further broken down by state and by certain metro and district levels. U.S. News also rated charter, magnet, and STEM schools. “Looking at factors like graduation rates and underserved student performance, families can use this information to learn more about their local schools,” said Eric Brooks, principal data analyst at U.S. News.


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The top public high schools span all regions of the country, from Virginia to Florida to Texas to Washington. Some of these institutions graduate 100% of students while the other schools boast rates above 95%. They also scored in a similar range for college readiness.

At the top-ranked high school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, every one of its more than 1,800 students passed an AP exam and scored proficient in math, reading and science. U.S. News listed the suburban school, part of Fairfax County Public Schools, as more than 80% minority, with 72% identifying as Asian. Its STEM-focused curriculum includes courses such as DNA science, advanced marine biology, and automation and robotics. Students have access to 15 specialized research labs, according to U.S. News.

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Here are the top 15 public high schools:

    1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (VA)
    2. Academic Magnet High School (SC)
    3. Signature School (IN)
    4. School for Advanced Studies (FL)
    5. Payton College Preparatory High School (IL)
    6. The Davidson Academy of Nevada
    7. Central Magnet School (TN)
    8. The School for the Talented and Gifted (TX)
    9. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (GA)
    10. Julia R. Masterman Secondary School (PA)
    11. BASIS Chandler (AZ)
    12. Tesla STEM High School (WA)
    13. Haas Hall Academy (AR)
    14. Whitney High School (CA)
    15. California Academy of Mathematics and Science

In specific categories, The Davidson Academy of Nevada was ranked the best STEM school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia was the No. 1 magnet school, and Signature School in Indiana was the top charter high school.