Education Rankings Move Beyond College to High Schools

U.S. News has launched its first-ever list of America’s Best High Schools, which has been in development for around two years.

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U.S. News has launched its first-ever list of America's Best High Schools, which has been in development for around two years. The analysis of nearly 19,000 public high schools in the United States is available starting November 30 here and on newsstands as of December 3 in the weekly magazine issue dated Dec. 10, 2007.

The effort has been led by Brian Kelly, U.S.News & World Report's editor, who was responsible for our teaming up with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education data research business run by Standard & Poor's. SES developed the comprehensive methodology, which determines how well high schools serve all their students, not just those who are collegebound.

You can read the America's Best High Schools 2008 methodology by going here. For those interested in a much more detailed version of the methodology, there is a PDF version of SES's summary here.

Briefly, how were the rankings done? We analyzed 18,790 public high schools in 40 states using data from the 2005-2006 school year. This is the total number of public high schools in each state that had grade 12 enrollment and sufficient data to analyze for the 2005-2006 school year. Overall, they represent more than 88 percent of the nation's high schools and 93 percent of high school seniors for the 2005-2006 school year. A three-step process determined the best high schools. The first two steps ensured that the schools serve all of their students well, using state proficiency standards as the measuring benchmarks. For those schools that made it past the first two steps, a third step assessed "college-readiness"—the degree to which schools prepared students for college-level work using Advanced Placement tests.