The Nation’s Top Public High Schools

Newsweekrecently published its list of the top 1000 public high schools in the nation. Anyone in the Northeast who wants to enroll his child in the highest ranked school will have to relocate to the South, as that honor goes to a school in Kentucky.  The news organization used six criteria provided by the schools’ administrators to determine the rankings. These components and the weight of their importance in percentile follow: 1) graduation rate -25 %  2) college matriculation rate- 25 %  3)AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student-25 %4)average SAT/ACT scores- 10 % 5) average AP/IB/AICE scores-10% 6) AP courses offered per student-5%.

Most of the schools on the list have open enrollment, but a significant number at the top of the list are magnet or charter schools. In fact, an article in this week’s The New York Times maintains, “Of the top 50, 37 have selective admissions or are magnet schools, meaning they screen students using a combination of entrance exam scores, grade-point average, state test results and assessments of their writing samples.”  Number 1 on the list is Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a highly selective, free residential high school. Juniors and seniors take college coursesin math, science, and lots of other subjects at Western Kentucky University. 

Only twenty-five Connecticut high schools appear on the list. The Connecticut IB (International Baccalaureate) Academy, located in East Hartford, (#130) is the highest ranked of the state. This is also a selective high school. The mission statement asserts that the school has “a rigorous pre-university curriculum.”  Admission is aimed at a specific type of student: “Any hard working student who has a solid record of A’s and B’s, perhaps with a C or two, should consider applying. A student who is willing to meet deadlines, accept responsibility for his or her own learning, and to work in partnership with other IB students on projects and research is a good fit.”

The only school in New Haven County to appear on the list, (#523) is Daniel Hand High School, the open enrollment high school in Madison. It ranked higher than Greenwich High School (#561). Most of the other schools are located in Fairfield County.  High schools in the Midwest did not fare well in the sample. Newsweek describes that geographical area as “an educational wasteland.”

The message is clear: High standards and high expectations directly correlate with achievement. Does that surprise anyone?

Leave a Reply