US News releases 2019 best high schools rankings

When it comes to success in college, a good high school can be a powerful launching pad.

But the Nation’s Report Card, formally known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, found that as few as 25% of 12th-grade students in 2015 were proficient in math and just 22% in science.

Parents searching for top public schools in their area that can put their teens on the right path can turn to the 2019 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, out today. U.S. News ranked 17,245 public high schools, out of a review of more than 23,000 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; the number of ranked schools is up from more than 2,700 last year. The new rankings, developed in conjunction with nonprofit research firm RTI International, are based on a revamped methodology that weighs six indicators of school quality for the 2016-2017 school year:

— College readiness, based on the proportions of 12th-grade students who took and passed Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate exams.

— College curriculum breadth, based on proportions of 12th-grade students who took and passed AP and/or IB exams in multiple content areas.

— Math and reading proficiency, based on student performance on state-required tests.

— Math and reading performance, based on whether performance on state assessments exceeded expectations given the school’s proportion of underserved students.

— Underserved student performance, based on how black, Hispanic and low-income students performed on state assessments compared with those who are not underserved in the state.

— Graduation rates, based on the proportion of students who entered ninth grade in 2012-2013 and graduated four years later.

The highest-ranked schools are those whose students excelled on state tests and performed beyond expectations; participated in and passed a variety of college-level exams; and graduated in high proportions. U.S. News assigned numerical ranks to schools performing in the top 75%. Schools performing below the 25th percentile are listed alphabetically with a ranking range.

[See: 2019 Best High Schools National Rankings.]

Claiming the top spot in the national rankings is Academic Magnet High School in South Carolina. AMHS, part of the Charleston County School District, had a 100% graduation rate and earned a college readiness score of 100.

The other nine schools ranked in the top 10, in order, are: Maine School of Science and Mathematics, BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, Central Magnet School in Tennessee, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia, Haas Hall Academy in Arkansas, International Academy of Macomb in Michigan, Payton College Preparatory High School in Illinois and Signature School in Indiana.

Of these 10 schools, most scored 100 on college readiness and at or near 100% for graduation rates. The lowest score for college readiness among these top 10 high schools is almost 94. Similarly, the lowest graduation rate reported is slightly below 94%. By contrast, the national graduation rate is slightly above 84%, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

[See: Top 20 Best High Schools.]

U.S. News also ranked the top magnet schools and charter schools separately, based on how these schools performed in the national rankings. Magnets are public schools with a thematic curriculum often tied to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math; fine arts; career and technical education; or other areas of study. Students are typically admitted to magnet schools through a lottery system. Charter schools are also public , though independently operated, which means greater autonomy over curriculum and exemption from some state laws and regulations.

The No. 1 school in the overall rankings, Academic Magnet High School, is also the top magnet school. For charters, the top school is BASIS Scottsdale, which came in at No. 3 in the overall rankings.

Among all schools ranked nationally, 10.2% are charters and 5% are magnets.

[Read: Consider Different Types of Public High Schools for Your Child.]

U.S. News also assigned a separate STEM ranking for 250 high schools whose students excelled on AP science and math tests. To be eligible, schools had to appear in the top 1,000 of the overall national rankings.

The top STEM school for 2019 is High Technology High School in New Jersey, which ranked at No. 39 overall. Of the top 10 schools in the overall rankings, only two also made the top 10 in the STEM rankings: BASIS Scottsdale at No. 2 and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia at No. 4.

In looking at how states performed in the overall national rankings, no state had two schools ranked in the top 10. But California had 13 schools in the top 100, and Florida and New York had 12 each.

The top-ranked school in California is Whitney High School at No. 14. Florida’s top-ranked school, Pine View School, came in at No. 15. Townsend Harris High School led the rankings in New York at No. 11.

A broader look beyond the top 100, however, shows Massachusetts as the winner when compared with other states. Nearly 49% of the Bay State’s eligible schools were in the top 25% of the Best High School rankings, followed by Maryland at almost 44%, California at 40% and Connecticut at slightly below 40%.

See the complete rankings of the Best High Schools.

More from U.S. News

See the Full 2019 Best High Schools Rankings

Explore the Best Charter Schools

View the Best Magnet Schools

U.S. News Releases 2019 Best High Schools Rankings originally appeared on

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