From the Editor

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Numbers can be wonderful tools for storytellers. This week we're launching a major new initiative that's packed with them: a comprehensive ranking of America's top-performing public high schools. Thanks to our partnership with School Evaluation Services, a unit of Standard & Poor's that collects and analyzes school data, it's possible to make an apples-to-apples comparison of individual high schools not only within each state but across the country. But like any of our rankings projects, America's Best High Schools is about more than the numbers. Why did certain schools do well? Who made it happen? Are some folks exaggerating their results and others quietly thriving? What lessons can we learn from the winners? Behind the rankings are narratives, profiles, tales of political courage and civic duty. We tell a few in this issue, but there are hundreds more in the trove of information we're publishing at We hope the numbers start a discussion on the local, state, and national level. While our main audience is consumers who need information to make good decisions—in this case, parents, taxpayers, voters, and educators—the data also provide fodder for the important national discussion about how to make better high schools. Even the federal government has not been able to come up with the kind of comparative data we're publishing, in part because creating standardized education information is a major challenge. A few states don't collect proper test scores, and some key indicators, such as graduation rates, need to be made standard nationwide. We hope to fill those holes by next year. Because sometimes you need the numbers to tell the stories. Brian Kelly

  • Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly is the editor of U.S. News & World Report.