U.S. News ranks best high schools

U.S. News has come out with its 2013 Best High Schools Rankings. Nearly all the top-ranked schools are specialty schools, magnets or charter schools. Arizona’s BASIS, an ultra-rigorous charter network, has two schools in the top five. Twenty-eight of the top-ranked 100 high schools are charter schools.

The survey looks at the performance of students overall and disadvantaged students compared to similar students in the state; if schools post above-average results, the survey analyzes Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test results.

About Joanne


  1. Mark Roulo says:

    “Best” *public* high schools. Private schools were not considered.

  2. Ann in L.A. says:

    The main criteria is a bit strange. It looks at what students are entering–disadvantaged, race, socioeconomic–then looks at those kids leaving, and asks how great the improvement. If you are a suburban district with mostly white kids, and are an excellent school, it is hard to get rated highly on this–you start at too high a level to show enough value-added. It is more a look at the best schools for disadvantaged kids–a good thing to look at, but not the same as the best schools overall.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “It is more a look at the best schools for disadvantaged kids…”


      It isn’t quite that. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology ranks 4th. I don’t think TJ has a lot of disadvantaged kids. The Bronx High School of Science, Staten Island Technical High School, Stuyvesant High School, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College and Brooklyn Technical High School are all in the top 100. These are “specialized high schools” from New York City where admission is mostly examination based. My guess is that they are not overfull with disadvantaged kids.


      Boston Latin School also makes the top 100.


      The methodology makes it clear that examination based entrance requirements help a lot more than lots of disadvantaged kids. The way USNWR made the list was:


         *) How do the students do against average kids from the state in question. They took into account the percentage of poor kids, but lots of high scoring kids still make for a good school.
         *) Then, how do the economically poor students and students with brown skin at that school do? Note that a few of these kids who do very well helps … so a test only admissions policy is a winner again.
         *) Finally, how did the students do with respect to AP and IB (both taking AP tests, for example, and scoring well on them)?


      Pretty clearly, for this methodology, the dominant factor in making up a “good” school is the students that the school admits in the first place.

      • cranberry says:

        USNWR should create a category for exam schools. I’m glad exam schools exist. On the other hand, their results depend on the student body they selected.

        While they’re at it, separate categories for magnet, charter and specialty schools would be a good idea too.

  3. The same issue exists with NCLB. I read that my older kids’ old HS was on the in-danger-of-sanctions list, because it wasn’t making enough AYP (annual yearly progress); sheer idiocy. It’s not easy to “progress” when you start at the 95th percentile or better. That school shouldn’t be on any such list; the ed world has much bigger problems and should adjust its focus accordingly.