Just what makes a good high school? No one measure is sure to please everyone. But the approach refined by U.S. News and World Report over the years is based on the principle that a great high school must serve all students well, not just those who are college bound.
Viewing schools through this lens, the 2014 Best High Schools rankings narrowed its list to 9,400 schools in 50 states and awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals to the top 4,700. This year the most winners were from Maine and California, with 22 percent of each state’s eligible schools receiving gold or silver honors. Its ranking considers student performance on state-mandated tests, participation and success in college-level courses, as well as how well a school does in meeting the needs of minority and disadvantaged students.
This year, U.S. News partnered with the American Institutes for Research, a social science research organization based in Washington, on the enterprise, although the methodology was unchanged from last year.
The list of best high schools was topped by the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, followed by BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology in Lawrenceville, Ga. (Click herefor the full list of national rankings.) There were 155 charter and magnet high schools in the top 500 schools.
Readers can also search by state or name to view a high school profile, which includes student test scores with subscores of proficiency in Algebra and English. The system evaluates students’ college readiness with an index that calculates student participation and performance in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. The student-teacher ratio, percentage of students in poverty, and the diversity of the student body is also included.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post came out with its list of Most Challenging High Schools, which looks at the percentage of students that sign up for an exam by AP, IB or Cambridge, but does not consider passing rates.
Newsweek and The Daily Beast rank high schools based on graduation rates, participation in AP and IB programs, and acceptance into a two- or four-year colleges.
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.