A closer look at U.S.News & World Report's rankings of America's Best High Schools indicates that the best public high schools in the country not only vary by region, but by the ethnicity of the students that fill their hallways, too. The best schools are not populated by a homogeneous segment of this increasingly diverse nation; instead, they are attended by students hailing from an array of backgrounds.
In fact, 30 of the 100 schools that comprise this year's Gold Medal List have minority populations that exceed 40 percent, with seven schools boasting minority populations higher than 95 percent.
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African-American population density is highest in the Southern states and five of the 10 schools on the top 100 list with the highest percentage of African-American students are located there. The John S. Davdison Fine Arts School located in Augusta, Ga., has the third highest ratio of African-American students among the top 100 schools . Its principal, Vicky Addison, cites the school's commitment to teaching the arts—which in turn piques students' interest in other subject areas—with the school's success across its diverse student body. "We have a culture of excellence that permeates our school, which students get caught up in when they come here, regardless of their race," she says. "We believe in challenging our students to do their best, whether in academics or in the fine arts."
The Hispanic-American population, now the largest minority in the country according to Census data, is concentrated in the Southwest and West Coast, so it's no surprise that nine of the top 10 most highly Hispanic populated schools can be found in Texas and California. At Hidalgo Early College High School in Hidalgo, Texas, No. 97 on our list of Best High Schools, 99.8 percent of the student body is of Hispanic origin. At Hidalgo, 79 percent of students participate in the Advanced Placement program, which is designed to challenge students more than traditional classes and better prepares them for college. Such a high ratio is indicative that Hidalgo students, no matter their background, are primed for success after they receive their diplomas.
Each of the 13 schools with the highest ratio of students with Asian heritage is located in California or New York. At the country's No. 3 ranked school, Whitney High School in Cerritos, Calif., 84.9 percent of the students are of Asian descent. A full 100 percent of students participate in the AP program and students pass 92 percent of their AP tests.
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