How U.S. News Calculated the 2013 Best High Schools Rankings

We looked at thousands of public schools to identify the most outstanding.

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• Breakdown of the results: After first eliminating public high schools that had fewer than 15 12th-grade students during the 2010-2011 school year, there were 18,196 schools eligible to be included in the 2013 Best High schools rankings.

As a result of the three-step rankings process, 26.4 percent of the 18,196 eligible public high schools were awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal: 2,515 high schools (13.8 percent of the eligible schools) were awarded bronze medals; 1,790 high schools (9.8 percent) were awarded silver medals; and 500 high schools (2.7 percent) were awarded gold medals.

In order for a high school to receive a gold medal in this year's rankings, it had to have a college readiness index of 45.75 or higher.

• Lower college readiness threshold to decide medal status: Starting with the 2012 Best High Schools rankings, U.S. News changed the methodology so that each year's median CRI will be the new threshold used to determine the medal status cutoff for that year's rankings. Therefore, the median CRI is expected to change slightly for each year's rankings.

The premise of using the median as the CRI threshold is that a school had to be performing at or better than half the schools to be eligible for a gold or silver medal. Since the median separates the higher and lower halves of the CRI data, we chose it as the basis for determining the medal cutoff.

As a result, in Step 3 of the 2013 rankings, we used achieving at or above the median college readiness index of 14.8 – versus 16.3 in the 2012 rankings – as the basis to determine the cutoff for schools to be ranked with a gold, silver or bronze medal. Only schools that had CRI values at or above 14.8, calculated on an unrounded basis to many decimal places, scored high enough to meet the criteria for gold and silver medal selection.

For a more detailed methodology, see the technical appendix produced by AIR.