Demographic Breakdown of the Best High Schools

The top-ranked public high schools are very diverse in their student enrollments and locations.

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U.S. News evaluated 21,035 public schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia for the 2013 Best High Schools rankings, with 18,196 schools eligible to be ranked. Below, we have also conducted a detailed demographic breakdown of the 4,805 medal winners.

Poverty distribution: This is the percentage of a school's 2010-2011 total enrollment that was eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, or the percent of economically disadvantaged students. The schools that were medal winners are broken down by different percentages of poverty, ranging from less than 5 percent to greater than or equal to 75 percent.

Minority distribution: This is the percentage of a school's 2010-2011 total enrollment that was American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or Hispanic. The medal-winning schools are broken down by different percentages of minorities, ranging from less than 5 percent to greater than or equal to 75 percent.

School structure: This is the breakdown of which medal winners were designated as either charter or magnet as reported to the U.S. Department of Education Common Core Data website for the 2010-2011 school year.

Community environment: This is the distribution by type of geographic area where the medal-winning high schools are located across the U.S. The locations range from large cities, suburbs of large cities and mid-sized cities to small towns and remote rural areas.

From analyzing this demographic data, displayed in the table below, it's clear that the top-ranked high schools are a very diverse group of schools.

For example, 75 percent of all medal winners are high schools with students in poverty of greater than or equal to 25 percent of enrollment. Also, 50 percent of all medal-winning high schools had minority enrollment of greater than or equal to 25 percent of their students.

Finally, 54 percent of the medal winners are schools located away from cities and suburbs, including in remote or rural areas. 

  Total number of gold medals Percent of schools with gold medals Total number of silver medals Percent of schools with silver medals Total number of bronze medals Percent of schools with bronze medals
Total schools with medals 500 10.4% 1,790 37.3% 2,515 52.3%
             
Poverty distribution            
Schools with poverty enrollment >=25% 153 30.6% 1,176 65.7% 2,296 91.3%
Schools with poverty enrollment >=50% 72 14.4% 496 27.7% 1,312 52.2%
Schools with poverty enrollment >= 75% 32 6.4% 143 8.0% 384 15.3%
Schools with no significant poverty enrollment (<5% or "n.a.") 129 25.8% 62 3.5%  37 1.5% 
Title I schools (which receive federal funds based on proportion of low-income students or families) 203 40.6% 822 45.9% 1,614 64.2%
             
Minority distribution            
Schools with minority enrollment >=25% 336 67.2% 999 55.8% 1,065 42.3%
Schools with minority enrollment >=50% 180 36.0% 577 32.2% 624 24.8%
Schools with minority enrollment >= 75% 96 19.2% 353 19.7% 377 15.0%
Schools with no significant minority enrollment (<5% or "n.a.") 12 2.4% 163 9.1%  589 23.4%
             
School structure            
Charter schools 71 14.2% 74 4.1% 169 6.7%
Magnet schools 74 14.8% 128 7.2% 56 2.2%
             
Community environment            
Schools in large cities 125 25.0% 256 14.3% 218 8.7%
Schools in mid-size cities 33 6.6% 110 6.1% 58 2.3%
Schools in small cities 43 8.6% 125 7.0% 59 2.3%
Schools in suburban areas of large cities 219 43.8% 508  28.4% 186 7.4%
Schools in suburban areas of mid-size cities 11 2.2% 53 3.0% 34 1.4%
Schools in suburban areas of small cities 5 1.0% 42 2.3% 24 1.0%
Schools in towns on fringe of urban areas 3 0.6% 39 2.2% 41 1.6%
Schools in towns distant from urban areas 1 0.2% 97 5.4% 180 7.2%
Schools in remote towns 1 0.2% 57 3.2% 162 6.4%
Schools in rural areas on fringe of urban areas 52 10.4% 295 16.5% 295 11.7%
Schools in rural areas distant from urban areas 3 0.6% 134 7.5% 720 28.6%
Schools in remote rural areas 4 0.8%  74 4.1% 538 21.4%