Start Your High School Search May 8

Families can browse data on nearly 22,000 public high schools in the new rankings.


May 1 was the deadline for many high school seniors to make a momentous decision: where to attend college. After making their selection, in the lingering summer days before stepping into a university lecture hall, entering freshmen may wonder if they're ready for college.

Being college-ready often begins in high school. At top schools, students are pushed to excel in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, both of which include college-level courses. Tomorrow, U.S. News is releasing the Best High Schools 2012 rankings for students and their families.

The fourth edition of Best High Schools will include data on nearly 22,000 public schools. Of those high schools, the top 4,877 were ranked nationally, earning them gold, silver, or bronze medals. Schools ranked at the national level met certain criteria based on state assessment scores and the percentages of students who take and pass AP or IB tests.

Families can check out state rankings of high schools as well—ideal for those who want to compare their schools with others in the state, and for families moving to a new area. The Best High Schools will also include lists of schools by district and rankings of the country's best magnet and charter schools.

[Learn why parents should start college conversations early.]

The Best High Schools as determined by U.S. News's methodology aren't necessarily the best ones for your child. While the rankings can be a good jumping-off point for the high school search, families can also dig into specific data that may determine which schools are the best fits for their kids­—­information such as enrollment per grade, school setting, state assessment scores, and percentages of minorities and disadvantaged students.

Have something of interest to share? Send your news to us at

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