DC-area high schools score high in US News 2021 rankings

Once again, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia, has been named the No. 1 high school in the U.S.

Senior data analyst with U.S. News & World Report Eric Brooks said some of the things that put Thomas Jefferson on top include a nearly 100% graduation rate, and the fact that every senior took advanced placement exams and got a score of three or higher.

As far as statewide testing goes, Brooks said, “All their students are proficient at reading and math.” Thomas Jefferson also does very well in U.S. News’ science, technology, engineering and math ranking, which looks at performance on AP exams in science and mathematics.

Two other local schools rank in the top 125 high schools nationwide. School Without Walls in D.C. ranked 90th nationally and No. 1 in the city. Walt Whitman in Montgomery County, Maryland, ranked 111th nationally and No. 1 in Maryland. Brooks said these two schools have graduation rates in the high 90s and students do well on AP exams and state assessments.

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Many of the top-ranked Maryland schools, such as Walt Whitman, Poolesville and Thomas S. Wootton, graduated more than 95% of their students, much higher than the state average of 87%.

Schools in addition to Walt Whitman that ranked in the top 25 in Maryland include: Poolesville, Thomas S. Wootton, Winston Churchill, Walter Johnson, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Richard Montgomery and Northwest high schools in Montgomery County.

Top 25 high schools in Howard County include River Hill, Glenelg, Marriotts Ridge, Centennial and Atholton.

There are two in the state’s top 25 in Frederick County, they are Urbana and Oakdale high schools.

Huntingtown in Calvert County is in the top 25, as are Liberty and Century high schools in Carroll County, and Chesapeake Science Point in Anne Arundel County also makes the list.

Eleanor Roosevelt High in Prince George’s County is also recognized, coming in 43rd.


Nine of the top 10 ranked schools in Virginia are in Northern Virginia. The reason is Virginia schools have relatively balanced numbers of students testing as proficient in reading and math, but school districts, such as Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties, graduate students who are about 80% to 90% proficient in the subject areas.

Schools that made the top 25 in Virginia from Fairfax County include Langley, McLean, Marshall, W. T. Woodson, Chantilly, Oakton, Madison, West Springfield, Robinson, Lake Braddock and Centreville.

Yorktown in Arlington County; George Mason in Falls Church; Battlefield, Patriot in Prince William County and Osbourn Park in Manassas; and Briar Woods in Loudoun County also made the top 25.


The top five high school in D.C. are, School Without Walls High School, Benjamin Banneker Academy High School, BASIS DC, McKinley Technology High School and Columbia Heights Educational Campus.

Behind the ranking

Brooks said U.S. News takes all kinds of things into account in making its rankings list. Such as how many kids are on free or reduced cost lunch and how well a school educates all its students.

For example, Brooks said schools, such as Osbourn Park, Springbrook High in Montgomery County and IDEA Public Charter School in D.C., face more challenges than some other schools but still excel.

“These are schools that got pretty impressive results on the PARCC exam, Standards of Learning and MCAP, and that’s why they hold their own in the ranking,” Brooks said.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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