8 Best High Schools in America

Newsweek is a magazine renowned for its rankings of educational institutes. Though its university ratings are perhaps better known than its high school counterparts, the publication’s analysis of secondary institutions are definitely not without merit.

In approaching the question of ranking high schools, Newsweek takes several different factors into consideration. Graduation rate and college acceptance rate are two of the more crucial criteria, as they are important in determining the future of a high school’s students; these days, it is difficult to get far in life without a college degree, let alone a high school diploma. The number of advanced placement tests taken on average by a student, scores on metrics like Advanced Placement exams and standardized tests, and the percentage of students who are not taking advanced coursework all also are taken into consideration.

It is no surprise that many of the nation’s top schools are magnet schools, meaning that they draw the best and brightest students from several different districts, often within the same city or region. It’s tough for a high school only drawing from one district to compete with wider-reaching institutions in some of the categories mentioned above.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the top eight high schools in the United States.

Washington DC

8. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, Virginia)

Thomas Jefferson High School is some six miles south of Washington, D.C. With an average SAT score of 2153, it completes that category as one of the very best in the country, and, with good overall numbers, it’s certainly not the worst high school to attend in the Capitol area. The school also has quite the reputation in quiz bowl, a high school academic competition, having won several national titles over the past two decades.

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7. BASIS Tuscon North (Tuscon, Arizona)

This Arizona institution, run by the charter school company BASIS, has consistently ranked among the top high schools not only in the nation but in the entire world. Drawing on some of the best students and coupled with an individualized approach to education, the school is known for its high AP scores and for getting its students into some of the best universities in the country.


6. School for Advanced Studies (Miami, Florida)

For the next entry in our list, we turn our eyes to Miami, where the School for Advanced Studies has put up some of the best numbers in Florida year after year. Like many of the other entries, it features a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate, successfully preparing its students for university life. The high school is somewhat unique in that it attracts students from around the area with high grade point averages for dual enrollment only after the first year of high school has been completed.

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5. School for the Gifted and Talented Magnet High School (Dallas, Texas)

The School for the Gifted and Talented takes the No. 5 spot on our list. Being a magnet school, the institution is able to draw on talent from across the region, capitalizing on the pool of advanced students available throughout the metropolitan area of Dallas. The average student in the school takes nearly four advanced placement exams, the highest total up to this point on the list, and the school is known for its focus on the liberal arts.

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4. School of Science/Engineering Magnet (Dallas, Texas)

Differing from the previous entry, the School of Science/Engineering Magnet — though also found in Dallas — provides a more mathematical counterpart to the School for the Gifted and Talented. Though the school does not fare as well in standardized test scores as its liberal arts counterpart, the School of Science/Engineering features a 100 percent graduation rate, propelling it one spot higher than its neighbor in the rankings.

College Graduation

3. BASIS Scottsdale (Scottsdale, Arizona)

Next up, we bring our attention to another BASIS charter school in Arizona, this time in Scottsdale. Though the Scottsdale institution is the only member of the top five to have the average student taking just more than three advanced placement tests, it makes up for the shortcoming by having an average SAT score of more than 2150, good for one of the highest values in the nation.


2. International Baccalaureate School at Bartow High (Bartow, Florida)

Bartow High School, found in Polk County in central Florida, is home to both a military high school and an International Baccalaureate school, famed for its high test scores and academic rigor. The average student takes 4.4 advanced placement tests, the highest of any school in the nation.

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1. Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky (Bowling Green, Kentucky)

Though it’s a mouthful to say, the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky takes the No. 1 spot on our list. The best high school in the country according to Newsweek, this institution sports an average ACT score of 32 and an average Advanced Placement test score of 4.5 (the tests are graded on an integer scale from 1 to 5). On Newsweek’s 5-point scale, the institute’s statistics were good enough for a 4.84 out of 5 — not perfect, but just about as good as this country’s system can deliver.

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