Four New Best High Schools Lists

Top achievement schools, top IB schools, and the biggest and smallest


U.S. News recently published four additional lists as part of its second annual rankings of America's Best High Schools, which is based on an analysis of more than 21,000 public high schools in 48 states. These lists offer additional insights into the diverse characteristics of the schools that are part of the ranking.

The Best High Schools: Top Achievement High Schools list shows the Gold Medal schools with 25 percent or more of their students coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The America's Best High Schools ranking methodology takes into account the relative performance of this group of students. The economically disadvantaged measure reflects the percentage of students enrolled in the school who are living in poverty, as defined by the state (where available) or the federal government. Typically, these students meet the federal criteria for receiving free or reduced-price lunches. But some states have enhanced their definitions to capture a broader population of students in need, particularly in high school, where social stigma may discourage students from enrolling in the free or reduced-price lunch program, which in turn causes this indicator to be artificially understated. Evaluating high schools by taking the socioeconomic circumstances of their students into account levels the playing field among schools, effectively assigning equivalent "degrees of difficulty" to each school's performance through the risk-adjusted performance index.

The Best High Schools: Top International Baccalaureate High Schools table is the first time such a ranking of International Baccalaureate high schools has ever been published in the United States. These are the top-ranked high schools that do the best job of producing students who have earned IB diplomas. The list is sorted based on the proportion of students who earned an IB diploma from those high schools that earned any medal in the latest America's Best High Schools rankings. An IB diploma can be earned by taking and passing a series of IB courses, writing a lengthy essay, and meeting other qualifications.

The last two tables are based on enrollment and highlight the fact the there is significant diversity in terms of size among those high schools that earned any medal in the latest America's Best High Schools rankings. The first is Best High Schools: Smallest Enrollment. These are the schools among the America's Best High Schools with the fewest students enrolled. The second is Best High Schools: Largest Enrollment.