Top 10 Best High Schools in the U.S.
The data for nearly 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia is included in the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings. Nearly 18,000 schools were ranked on six criteria based on state assessment performance and how well they prepare students for college.
1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
In, Alexandria, VA, Fairfax County Public Schools
Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is ranked first. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
The school is part of the Fairfax County Public Schools system in Virginia’s Fairfax County. Students from the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William, as well as the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, are also eligible for admission.
In 2015 and 2016, the acceptance-to-application ratio was 17.9 percent and 17.9 percent, respectively. The ethnic demographics of the graduating class of 2022 were 65.2 percent Asian/Asian American, 22.9 percent Caucasian/white American, 5.1 percent other (including Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and people of multiple racial backgrounds), 4.7 percent Hispanic or Latino American, and 2.1 percent African American or Black. Hispanic and Black students make up less than 7% of the student body, while they make up roughly 30% of the student population in the area.
Coalition of the Silence, an advocacy group led by former county School Board member Tina Hone, and the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint against the school with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in 2012. In response, the Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation in September 2012.
2. Academic Magnet High School
In, North Charleston, SC, Charleston County School District
Academic Magnet High School is the top-ranked high school in South Carolina. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
Academic Magnet High School was founded in 1988, and the first graduating class was in 1992. Originally, the school was a separate sub-campus of Burke High School in downtown Charleston.
It then relocated to the Charleston Naval Base, where it remained until 2010, when it relocated to the newly built Bonds Wilson campus in North Charleston, South Carolina, on the site of the former Bonds-Wilson High School.
Academic Magnet shares a campus with the middle and high schools of the Charleston County School of the Arts. The new campus is part of the Charleston County School District’s endeavor to modernize existing buildings.
Due to a student council member’s initiative, the school’s motto was changed from “seriously clever” to “eruditio et honor” (scholarship and honor) in December 2018.
3. The Davidson Academy of Nevada
In, Reno, NV, Davidson Academy School District
The Davidson Academy of Nevada is the top-ranked school in the state of Nevada. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
The Reno branch of the academy was established in response to state law approved in 2005 authorizing the establishment of a “university school for profoundly brilliant kids.”
The Davidsons chose to establish the academy as an extension of the Davidson Young Scholar program in response to several requests from parents requesting them to establish a school and stating that they would relocate for their children to attend.
For the 2017-2018 school year, the Davidson Academy started a full-time online campus. The online alternative offers “rigorous online academic environment where these children can thrive among their intellectual peers” to profoundly gifted students in the United States and Canada.
4. Payton College Preparatory High School
In, Chicago, IL, Chicago Public Schools
Payton College Preparatory High School is the top-ranked high school in Illinois. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
Walter Payton College Prep, established in 2000, is a component of the Chicago Public Schools system. The school, located on Chicago’s near north side, is one of nine selective enrollment high schools in the city.
It was named after football hero Walter Payton, a former Chicago Bears standout halfback and humanitarian who died at the age of 45 from a rare liver condition just before the school opened.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is also named after him, and the Payton school colors are blue and orange, the Chicago Bears’ colors.
The school is well-known for its sophisticated academic programs, which are delivered in accordance with an international model of teaching and learning.
The Confucius Institute in Chicago opened in May 2006 at Payton, thanks to a collaboration between Chicago Public Schools, the Office of Chinese Language Council International, and Shanghai’s East China Normal University.
It is the world’s only Confucius Institute housed in a high school. On January 21, 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a visit to the school, where he inspected the KAM and AP Chinese programs and invited 20 professors and students to spend the summer in China. The Payton Choir was one of eight US choirs that traveled to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to build a new annex behind the old structure to seat additional children in September 2013. The annex was finished and ready for use by the start of the 2016 academic year. A new gym and a black box theater are part of the annex. It cost $17 million to construct.
5. School for Advanced Studies (SAS)
In, Miami, FL, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
The School for Advanced Studies (SAS) is ranked first in the state of Florida. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
It is part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools System and is located on five Miami Dade College campuses: Kendall, North, Wolfson, West, and Homestead. Arlene Martinez is the owner.
6. Sumner Academy of Arts and Science
In, Kansas City, KS, Kansas City Public Schools
Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences is the top-ranked school in Kansas. International Baccalaureate coursework and tests are available to students.
Sumner Academy holds its students to rigorous behavioral and academic standards. Before enrolling at Sumner Academy, students must get a letter of acceptance, and once enrolled, they must maintain a GPA of 2.5 or above in order to continue attending.
In 1984 and 2003, the school was named a Blue Ribbon School. The Blue Ribbon Award honors public and private schools that excel academically or have made great academic progress. Sumner Academy’s participation in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which is based on a 5.0 scale, is one aspect accountable for its challenging academic reputation.
In 1987, Sumner started offering pupils the opportunity to engage in the IB program. The academy provides 20 different IB classes, and more than one-third of the faculty has considerable IB training.
Although only juniors and seniors are able to take IB coursework, the IB program has an impact on the Sumner Academy curriculum throughout all grade levels. Pre-IB courses are frequently taken by ninth and tenth graders in preparation for future IB study.
International Baccalaureate coursework and tests are available to students. Sumner Academy of Arts and Science has a 97 percent IB participation rate. The student body is made up of 41% men and 59% women, with a total minority enrollment of 79%. Sumner Academy of Arts and Science is one of Kansas City’s six high schools.
Sumner Academy was ranked 75th among the “100 Best High Schools in America” in the May 16, 2005 issue of Newsweek Magazine. Sumner Academy was named to the list for the second time. Sumner Academy came in 99th place in 2004.
7. Merrol Hyde Magnet School
In, Hendersonville, TN, Sumner County
Merrol Hyde Magnet School is the best in Tennessee. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
Admission to the school is competitive.  After submitting an application, the prospective student is given a standardized test. The student must achieve at least the 85th percentile in order to be admitted to the institution. The student is then placed on a waiting list. The following are the acceptance priority.
People with siblings in the school get admitted first.
Second, the folks with the greatest scores will be placed near the top.
There are waiting lists for nearly every grade level at the school. If a student leaves during the school year, the first individual on the waiting list will be informed. If he or she is unable to join Merrol Hyde, the position is passed to the next person in line, and so on.
8. BASIS Chandler
In, Chandler, AZ, BASIS Charter Schools Inc.
BASIS Chandler is the top-ranked school in Arizona. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students. BASIS Chandler has a 100% participation rate in AP®.
9. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology
In, Lawrenceville, GA, Gwinnett County
Georgia’s Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology is ranked first. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students.
The school provides challenging high-level courses, including a number of Advanced Placement courses. Honors and Gifted Chemistry, Honors and Gifted Physics, Accelerated Integrated Algebra, Accelerated Integrated Geometry, Accelerated Integrated Precalculus, Honors and Gifted Language Arts, Fundamentals of Engineering I, Foreign Language (Chinese I, German I, Spanish I, and Spanish II), and one elective class are required for freshmen.
Some of these classes are presented in blocks, allowing students to earn up to nine Carnegie units in ninth grade. The school’s primary focus is mathematics, science, and technology, but other courses are also taught at the highest levels accessible. Each course is meant to incorporate content from other courses into its own lessons in order to highlight the course’s history and practical applications. Notably, GSMST does not offer any Title 1 sports.
10. Signature School
In, Evansville, IN, Signature School Inc
Signature School is the best in Indiana. Advanced Placement® courses and examinations are available to students. Signature School has a 100% AP® participation rate.
Signature School began as a half-day school with 213 pupils in 1992. It provided classes in the morning and afternoon and allowed determined high school students to enroll in higher-level courses. The Accelerated, Compacted, Enriched Program (ACE) was designed specifically for freshmen and sophomores looking for advanced English, foreign language, math, and science courses.
Signature School had 278 part-time pupils by 2001. After the Indiana Charter School Law was passed, the staff petitioned for a full-day program, added more courses to the curriculum, and converted the school to a charter school. Signature School applied for charter-seeking conversion status with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) in December 2001, and on February 25, 2002, the EVSC accepted the charter, creating the school Indiana’s first public charter high school.
The first Signature School graduation ceremony was conducted in the Victory Theatre in May 2003. The first graduating class had 42 students.