The Best Public High Schools in Each State

The Best Public High Schools in Each State

A new report from Niche on the best public high schools in each state may help shed light on whether you're living or looking in the right neighborhood.

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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.

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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
Arizona Basis Scottsdale Scottsdale 7
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.

To learn more about the schools in your neighborhood or beyond, log in to NeighborWho to get home values, school ratings and crime statistics.

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Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.