Coming Soon: New Best High Schools Rankings

U.S. News will significantly expand the rankings of public high schools nationwide.

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On May 1, 2012, U.S. News will publish its new Best High Schools rankings of public high schools in the United States.

To produce the 2012 Best High Schools rankings, which will be available online only, U.S. News teamed up with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. AIR implemented U.S. News's comprehensive rankings methodology, which reflects how well high schools serve all of their students, not just those who are planning to go to college.

With the May 1 launch, U.S. News will significantly expand the number of high schools on which we publish data. The number of high schools we will have information on will rise from around 1,800 to nearly 22,000, a 12-fold increase. The amount of school-specific data on enrollment, ethnicity, location, school type, state assessment proficiency tests, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests we will publish on each high school will increase by more than three times.

Here's how the rankings will be calculated: First, we analyzed information from nearly 22,000 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia using data from the 2009-2010 school year. A three-step process will be used to determine the Best High Schools on the national level. The first two steps will ensure that the schools serve all their students well, using state proficiency standards as the measuring benchmarks.

For the schools that make it past the first two steps in their state, a third step will be used to assess "college readiness"—the degree to which schools prepared students in terms of both participation in and passing of college-level work using Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests as the standard. U.S. News will then nationally rank the 4,813 highest-scoring schools.

Schools with highest college readiness will be numerically ranked from No. 1 to No. 500 and will be the gold medal winners. The next group of high schools with highest college readiness indexes will be numerically ranked No. 501 through No. 1,971 and will be the silver medal winners. This will be followed by 2,842 bronze medal winners, listed alphabetically.

A high school's position in the numerical rankings, whether they were awarded a medal, or whether they were ranked at all, will be dependent on how high they scored in all three steps of the rankings methodology.

In addition to the main national rankings, there will be other numerical rankings published for the top high schools in each state and for the best charter schools and the best magnet schools on a national level. A much more detailed Best High Schools methodology will be published when the rankings come out in May.

Media representatives: To get access to embargoed Best High Schools 2012 rankings materials, please E-mail