What are the top 20 high schools in the United States?


Tracy Jennings, Works at Noodle and here to help!

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Thanks for your question — it's a good one, and one that got everyone inspires a lot of the work we do at Noodle.

Just as with college, rankings systems have become increasingly popular for high school. You can find lists of the "top high schools in U.S." on news outlets from The Washington Post to online websites, and they all offer their calculated opinion about which schools are best.

Sure, lists are fun to read — how else would Buzzfeed have gotten so popular?! — but at Noodle, we tend to shy away from making any declarations about what's best for you. While we acknowledge rankings can help students make better informed decisions (and so we include all the various sets of them on college profiles, we also recognize there's no "one-size-fits-all" solution.

Instead, we aggregate a wide variety of data sources, which then provides a more nuanced picture of every public high school in the United States. We crunch the raw data published by authoritative sources rather than assign subjective weights to certain measures. You can then filter by different values, like educational quality or distance from home. Our primary aim is to be neutral and allow you to decide the factors that are important.

When you search for high school on our site, you'll see a list appear of schools near you. They aren't necessarily the closest ones to you — that's because we developed an algorithm to calculate which are the best schools near you based on a variety of factors incorporated into our evaluation. You learn more about how these factors play into what we call our K-12 report card.

So that means, for each visitor on site, no two lists of the "top" 20 high schools will look the same.

What's more, you can even craft your own lists of schools on site.

This might not be perhaps the simple, straightforward answer you expected, but I hope you enjoy using our site to find what high schools make your top list.

Anonymous, Helpful tutor/teacher

The top high schools in the United States are ranked annually by many different publications. One credible publication is the U.S. News & World Report. In addition to ranking national universities, they nationally rank high schools as well. The list can be seen here:


There are many different criteria in which the U.S. News & World Report judges these schools, and they range from English proficiency to college readiness. You can click on the link for each school to find more details. I hope this helps!

Maryann Aita, Writer, expert tutor, and creative writing MFA candidate

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As Tracy pointed out, rankings of national high schools exist, but are probably not as useful to you as an individualized list. Tt's important to note that national rankings are often based primarily on statistics, like graduation rates and college acceptances, and evaluations of academic rigor. I don't know the precise formula media outlets like US News and World Report use to rank schools, but it is far from unanimous.

When ranking anything, there needs to be context and some specificity. The "best" 20 high schools in the country is very vague. The schools that are most selective or produce the most ivy league college graduates would be quite a different list from the schools that offer the best culinary programs, the most extracurricular programs, or a list of schools with the highest student satisfaction rate. There is also a question of public vs. private schools, which don't have the same resources or regulations. Not to mention, the criteria for ranking schools may change from year to year, so it's very difficult to answer this question.

Ultimately, ranking high schools should be an individual process based on the needs and desires of each student. For instance, some of the New York City specialized high schools--all highly-regarded public schools that base their admissions on a single standardized test--are the High School of American Studies at Lehman College (which emphasizes American history) the Bronx High School of Science (which emphasizes science and technology) and Brooklyn Latin (which emphasizes liberal arts). Among them is also La Guardia High School, which includes an audition--and is as selective as the others--but emphasizes the performing arts.

Is any one of these schools better than another? For a student pursuing a career in musical theater, La Guardia is probably the "best," but for a student who loves classic literature, Brooklyn Latin may be the better fit. That doesn't mean, however, that their education is any better or worse. They simply aren't comparable.

I'd suggest narrowing the focus of the question and determining what it is you are looking for in a high school and ranking based on your preferences.

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