All parents want to send their kids to the best private or best public schools in the United States. Children deserve the best education possible. Some parents may be wary about sending their children to a public school, but there are great schools out there. In this article, you’ll find the best public high schools in the U.S. for students to attend.
What makes a public high school the best in America? There are some contributing factors to a ranking system for public schools. An accomplished public high school serves not only those planning on attending college but those who will go on to the workforce or a trade school after graduation. There needs to be diversity in culture and extracurricular activities so that students are well-rounded.
The first step in the ranking process for the best public high schools in the USA is academic performance and exam scores. Looking at each school’s exam scores compared to the state and district scores is a good indicator of how well a school is performing.
We also considered the percentage of students participating in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. The more students that are challenging themselves academically, the more prepared they will be for a transition to college courses.
|Magnet School for the Talented and Gifted
|BASIS Tucson North
|Science/Engineering Magnet High School
|Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Another factor a good public school should have is a balanced gender and ethnic makeup. Each school for what percentage of the students are minorities and how many girls and boys there are. America is known as a cultural melting pot, meaning that in the real world students will most likely be by people from many cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Having a student body that reflects what the real world will be like will prepare students to enter it.
The final thing we considered when making this list is the teacher to student ratio. Many studies show that having small classrooms gives students individual attention and this increases test scores. The largest student body for a public school on this list is 2,100, and the smallest school has 240 students.
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10 Best Public High Schools in America
Magnet School for the Talented and Gifted
The School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG) places great emphasis on an AP curriculum. Each student has to take a minimum of 11 AP courses to graduate. Students have the opportunity to conduct field research through local universities, take electives, and enroll in mini-courses like glass blowing between terms. Students can start attending this school in the 9th grade. It is the smallest school on the list with roughly 240 students.
The school is so small, the teacher to student ratio has a 15:1 ratio. 100 percent of the students take AP tests, and 95 percent of those students pass those exams. This school consistently exceeds the state and district scores on exit exams for English and Mathematics. The student body breakdown for this class is 59 percent female and 41 percent male, with a minority enrollment of 64 percent. The racial and ethnic makeup of the school reflects the culturally diverse school district that the school elects its students. The attendance rate of the TAG is roughly 97 percent, and the average class size is 14 students. With a small school that gives students a strong liberal arts background card is the best public school in the nation.
BASIS Scottsdale was opened back in 2003 and is ranked the best school in the state of Arizona. Smaller than the Tucson campus, the BASIS Scottsdale location has around 750 students in attendance. This school boasts a competitive humanities program and carefully constructed math and science programs. Similarly to the other campuses, students can start attending the Tucson campus in the 5th grade and can continue till the 12th grade.
Students can begin to participate in AP classes once they reach the 8th grade.100 percent of the students take AP tests, and they have a passing rate of 100 percent. The student body breakdown is 46 percent female and 54 percent male. Within the student body, 53 percent of the students are minorities. BASIS Scottsdale has consistently been on top 10 lists for public schools for the nation and the world, making it an excellent choice for a public education.
BASIS Tucson North
BASIS Tucson North is the second BASIS school on this top 10 list. Much like the Oro Valley location, Tucson North has an AP participation rate is 100 percent. This school has roughly 900 students, and the student body makeup is 50 percent female and 50 percent male. Students can start going to school at Tucson North as early as 5th grade and continue until they graduate.
In 2012, BASIS Tucson North won the first-place national ranking on the Washington Post “Challenge List.” This school has the largest BASIS campus in existence and has a capacity of 1,000 students. As far as their test scores go, Tucson North has a 100 percent AP passing rate. 100 percent of their students pass the benchmark of English proficiency. This BASIS campus has a minority enrollment of 48 percent. BASIS Tucson North is the 2nd best school in the state of Arizona.
Science/Engineering Magnet High School
Students at Science/Engineering Magnet High School start their AP classes as soon as they reach the 9th grade and continue until they graduate. Students also have the opportunity for dual enrollment which allows them to receive college credit at surrounding community colleges and universities. Parents are encouraged to get involved by hosting college planning nights and fundraisers.
The Science/Engineering Magnet High School is a relatively small school with around 400 students. With a small school comes a lot of individual attention from teachers. This school has a student to teacher ratio of 16:1. 100 percent of the students are AP tested, and 93 percent of the students pass these exams. Their mathematics proficiency score is 89 percent passing rate, and their English proficiency students are at a 98 percent passing rate. The number of minority students enrolled at this school is 85 percent. The gender breakdown is 26 percent female and 74 percent male. Overall, this is a great public school that offers a diverse learning environment and individualized instruction.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, known locally as “TJ,” is a regional STEM magnet school and boasts more than ten specialized research labs, ranging from astrophysics to oceanography. TJ provides a challenging learning environment where students can pursue their passions in a comprehensive program that extends beyond STEM courses. Students believe in humanitarian principles and regularly give back to the community.
The total number of students is around 1,800 with a gender breakdown of 41 percent female and 59 percent male students. With a student body in the thousands, it is impressive that the student to teacher ratio is 17:1. This is ideal for students because they get the benefits of a bigger school without losing the individual attention of a small school. At TJ, 100 percent of the students receive a state honors diploma with all courses at advanced levels and they complete a capstone research project their senior year.
BASIS Oro Valley
Basis Oro Valley ranks as the 3rd best school in the state of Arizona. All students enroll in AP classes, and 83 percent of those students pass their AP exams. There are roughly 600 students who attend the school, and the gender makeup is 53 percent male and 47 percent female. Students at BASIS Oro Valley can enroll as early as 6th grade. The percentage of minority students enrolled at BASIS Oro Valley is 39 percent.
As a charter school, BASIS does not exclude students, but it is the family’s choice whether the student attends. The students at BASIS Oro Valley have the opportunity to start learning a second language in the 7th grade and beginning in the 8th grade, students take on a heavy course load in AP classes.
Pine View School
The Pine View School permits students to enroll as early as 2nd grade and offers classes in all grades through 12th grade. This explanation means that there are more students than most of the schools on this list. The total enrollment at this school is around 2,100. Even with a lot of students, this school has a teacher to student ratio of 17:1. The Pine View school mixes traditional classroom learning with independent study, mini-courses, and ungraded classes.
The school also allows students to be well-rounded and become familiar with other styles of teaching. The students are also exposed to other cultures because they are required to complete advanced foreign language credits to graduate. The total minority enrollment is 26 percent of the student body. The Pine View school also encourages substantial parental involvement with volunteering opportunities, fundraisers, newsletters, and open houses. Since the school is very close to the water, there is a rowing club. 100 percent of the students at this school take AP tests, and 99 percent pass those tests. The student’s mathematics and English proficiency are at a 99 percent passing rate.
Academic Magnet High School
Academic Magnet High School has a high standard of excellence. All students being required to take either honors classes or AP classes. Students in 9th grade and go all the way through 12th grade. Along with rigorous courses, all students are required to complete an independent research project that spans over one year. Roughly 600 students attend this prestigious school.
The student to teacher ratio is 14:1, which means the students get the individual attention they won’t find at a bigger school. 100 percent of the student body is AP, and it has a passing rate of 99 percent. 100 percent of students pass their tests in mathematics and English. The total minority enrolled at the Academic Magnet School is 15 percent. The gender breakdown is 52 percent female and 48 percent male. The Academic Magnet High School provides wifi in the cafeteria and has three separate computer labs.
The International Academy boasts a strong International Baccalaureate (IB) Program for their students. Every student takes IB classes which are equal parts challenging and enriching. While taking IB classes, a student can earn up to a year of college credit. Students at the International Academy range from the 9th grade and go through the 12th grade. This school also offers exciting opportunities from career mentorships to trips internationally.
The International Academy has around 1,300 students enrolled. 100 percent of students at this school are IB tested, and they have a 100 percent passing rate. In the subjects of math and English, 97 percent of students pass. Minority students make up 48 percent of the student body. The International Academy also has locations in Troy and White Lake.
Carnegie Vanguard High School
Carnegie Vanguard has around 600 students and is located at the heart of Houston, Texas. They are one of the most centrally located public high schools in Houston and Houston ISD. They have a great view as they can see downtown from their windows, which is remarkable in one of the most spread-out cities in the country!
This small school doesn’t have little expectations. 100 percent of the students at this school are gifted and talented, meaning that all of the students must be identified as gifted and talented in order to enter the admission lottery. Each student has to complete a minimum of 100 hours of community service and is required to take a minimum of 8 AP courses but most take many more. The 8 courses required are: AP human geography, world history, U.S. history, U.S. Government, Macroeconomics, English language, English literature, physics. The school offers more than 30 different AP courses. All students are also required to take a junior level independent research class. The students here start in the 9th grade and go through the 12th grade.
The ratio of students to teachers is 17:1, meaning that the classes at Carnegie Vanguard are small and that the students get plenty of individual attention. This focus reflects in their test scores. Based on the most recent reports, 100% of their students passed the state of Texas math proficiency test, 100% passed the English 1 state of Texas proficiency test and 99% passed the English 2 state of Texas proficiency test. 100% of CVHS students are enrolled in AP courses and take the corresponding exam and 82% receive a passing score. The number of minority students attending this school is 59 percent. Last but not least, the students at this school consistently exceed the national and state averages for SAT and ACT scores.