The quality of public schools is a perennial topic of concern for parents of school-aged children and homeowners. Now a new report from Niche on the best high schools in each state may help shed light on whether you’re living or looking in the right neighborhood and can enjoy all the advantages that come with a coveted zip code.
A great public school isn’t a neighborhood signpost only parents of school-aged children should look for. According to a report in The New York Times, there is a direct correlation between school performance and home values. The article notes that in suburban areas, a five percent rise in test scores correlates to a two and a half percent rise in home values.
What the best public high schools have in common
To come up with their best public high schools list, Niche, a platform that looks at school and neighborhood rankings, looked at several factors including SAT and ACT scores, reading and math proficiency, AP enrollment, graduation rate and diversity.
What their list found was a good portion of the best public high schools are specialized ones that focus on a particular curriculum. Examples include the top two ranked schools, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools offer a much-touted STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum and have a tough admissions policy with acceptance rates similar to top-tier universities.
In the case of Illinois’ Mathematics and Science Academy, admission is open to anyone in the state, while Thomas Jefferson accepts students from six different school districts in Northern Virginia. Both schools note that admission is extremely competitive, with acceptance rates similar to top-tier universities.
Here are the rest of the best public high schools by state:
|Alabama||Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School||Montgomery||52|
|Alaska||West High School||Anchorage||1,301|
|Arkansas||Haas Hall Academy||Fayetteville||347|
|California||Canyon Crest Academy||San Diego||16|
|Colorado||Cherry Creek High School||Greenwood Village||122|
|Connecticut||Staples High School||Westport||125|
|Delaware||Charter School of Wilmington||Wilmington||26|
|District of Columbia||The School Without Walls High School||Washington, DC||179|
|Florida||Pine View School||Osprey||69|
|Georgia||Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology||Lawrenceville||13|
|Hawaii||Education Laboratory School||Honolulu||1,282|
|Idaho||Boise Senior High School||Boise||512|
|Illinois||Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy||Aurora||1|
|Indiana||West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School||West Lafayette||39|
|Iowa||Ames High School||Ames Community School District||164|
|Kansas||Blue Valley North High School||Overland Park||49|
|Kentucky||DuPont Manual High School||Louisville||35|
|Louisiana||Benjamin Franklin High School||New Orleans||32|
|Maine||Maine School of Science & Mathematics||Limestone||86|
|Maryland||Poolesville High School||Poolesville||30|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science||Worcester||10|
|Michigan||International Academy||Bloomfield Hills||54|
|Minnesota||Minnetonka Senior High School||Minnetonka||127|
|Mississippi||The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science||Columbus||6|
|Missouri||Clayton High School||Clayton||72|
|Montana||Bozeman High School||Bozeman||1,210|
|Nebraska||Millard North High School||Omaha||500|
|Nevada||The Davidson Academy||Reno||25|
|New Hampshire||Hanover High School||Hanover||124|
|New Jersey||Bergen County Academies||Hackensack||12|
|New Mexico||Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science||Albuquerque||762|
|New York||Stuyvesant High School||New York City||4|
|North Carolina||Raleigh Charter High School||Raleigh||29|
|North Dakota||Fargo Davies High School||Fargo||1,194|
|Ohio||Dublin Jerome High School||Dublin||64|
|Oklahoma||Booker T. Washington High School||Tulsa||328|
|Oregon||South Eugene High School||Eugene||493|
|Pennsylvania||Conestoga Senior High School||Berwyn||24|
|Rhode Island||Barrington High School||Barrington||496|
|South Carolina||Academic Magnet High School||North Charleston||40|
|South Dakota||Brandon Valley High School||Brandon||1,675|
|Tennessee||Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School||Nashville||87|
|Texas||Liberal Arts & Science Academy||Austin||11|
|Utah||Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy||Lindon||312|
|Vermont||South Burlington High School||South Burlington||441|
|Virginia||Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology||Alexandria||2|
|Washington||Tesla STEM High School||Redmond||43|
|West Virginia||Morgantown High School||Morgantown||1,828|
|Wisconsin||Whitefish Bay High School||Whitefish Bay||100|
|Wyoming||Big Horn High School||Big Horn||1,875|
Most of the very top public high schools included on this list offer an education on par with private schools, with the added benefit of no tuition cost. The trade-off: many of these public schools have extremely competitive entrance requirements or lottery systems, meaning that simply moving within the school district area is no guarantee that your child will automatically be admitted into the school.
While there may be other good schools in the same neighborhood, this isn’t always the case, as an article in the Washingtonian points out using the example of Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ). It notes that graduates from TJ outperform their peers from the same Northern Virginia county by 526 points on SAT scores, but neighboring high schools have some of the lowest graduation rates in the school district.
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