The importance of a strong high school education cannot be overstated.
Good schools challenge students academically, while giving them ample opportunity to explore their interests. This combination can set teens up to succeed long after graduation. By contrast, subpar schools can leave students struggling to make the transition from high school to college or the workforce.
The 2013 Best High Schools rankings, released today, can help parents wade through the ever expanding options of public high schools. U.S. News collected data on more than 21,000 public high schools from 49 states and the District of Columbia. (Nebraska did not report enough data to be included in the rankings.)
U.S. News joined forces with the American Institutes for Research, a D.C.-based organization, to evaluate schools on overall student performance on state-mandated assessments, as well as how effectively schools educated their black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students. Performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams was then used to determine the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work.
Schools were ranked within each state, as well as on a national stage, so families can see how their public high school stacked up against rivals within the community and across the country. In the national rankings, 500 schools earned gold medals, 1,790 were awarded silver and 2,515 took home bronze.
The School for the Talented and Gifted in the Dallas Independent School District retained its distinction as the best public high school in the country. BASIS Tucson, in Arizona, climbed the ranks from No. 6 to claim the No. 2 spot, replacing Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, which fell to fourth. The International School in Washington held onto its No. 9 ranking.
Six schools made significant gains to join the top 10 this year. The biggest movers were Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona. Both schools opened their doors during the 2007-2008 school year, and each made a big splash with its first full graduating class, moving from no numerical rank to third and fifth, respectively.
Pine View School in Florida climbed 24 spots to stake its claim as the No. 6 ranked public high school in the country, and Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School in Alabama followed suit, jumping from No. 32 to No. 7. Biotechnology High School in New Jersey (No. 8) and Academic Magnet High School in South Carolina (No. 10) also joined the top-ranked high schools, gaining nine and 17 places, respectively.