School-specific data on enrollment, ethnicity, location, school type and the results of state assessment proficiency tests and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests for more than 19,400 public high schools will also be published on usnews.com.
The comprehensive U.S. News rankings methodology – which reflects how well high schools serve all of their students, not just those who are planning to go to college – was implemented by the American Institutes for Research to create the online-only rankings. The Washington, D.C.-based behavioral and social science research organization is one of the largest in the world.
The rankings include an analysis of detailed statistical information from the 2011-2012 school year from more than 19,400 public high schools. For the first time, data from schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were evaluated. This will be the first time that the Best High Schools rankings will include public high schools from Nebraska.
The rankings methodology sets out a three-step process to determine the top high schools on the national level. The first two steps will use each state's proficiency test standards and factor in student demographic characteristics as the measuring benchmarks to find schools that serve all their students well.
The third step takes the schools that make it past the first two steps in each state and will use performance on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate by measuring participation rates and the proportion passing these tests to assess those schools' college readiness.
U.S. News will then nationally rank the 4,707 highest-scoring schools. Gold medal winners will be the schools with the highest level of college readiness, those numerically ranked from No. 1 to No. 500.
Schools ranked Nos. 501 through 2,019 – the group with the next highest college readiness indexes – will be the silver medal winners. The next 2,688 schools will earn bronze medals and will be listed alphabetically.
A school's rank, medal color or whether it was ranked at all will depend on how high it scored in all three steps of the Best High Schools rankings methodology. A much more detailed Best High Schools methodology will be published when the rankings come out later in April.
U.S. News will also release new numerical rankings for the top high schools in each state and for the Best High Schools for STEM, Best Charter Schools and Best Magnet Schools on a national level, in addition to the main national rankings.
Media representatives: To get access to 2014 Best High Schools rankings materials, please email Education-PR@usnews.com.
Corrected on March 27, 2014: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of silver medal winners.