Where Are the Best High Schools in the U.S.?

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U.S. News & World Report has released their annual list of the best public high schools in America. This year’s list—as in years past—is essentially a guide to the most highly specialized, prestigious magnet schools in the country.

Much like Yale, Princeton and Harvard essentially trade amongst themselves for the top 3 spots in the online magazine’s Best Colleges rankings each year, the same names keep coming up on the high school list: the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas competes with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia and the School of Science and Engineering Magnet (also in Dallas) for the top spot each year.

But that’s sort of the problem: if your child attends his or her local public school down the road—and they didn’t have to apply to get in—you are probably not going to find that school near the top of the list.

The cream of U.S. public schools, many of which require a rigorous admissions process, boast things you’re not going to find in an everyday institution. Like specialized research labs for everything from astrophysics to microelectronics on campus; or a requirement that stuents take a minimum of 11 Advanced Placement courses to graduate; or having a student-to-teacher ratio as low as 6 to 1.

It’s a high bar that isn’t even remotely attainable for the majority of schools in the U.S., stuck with small (and shrinking) budgets and overcrowded classrooms. Not to take anything away from the schools below — they’re exemplary institutions (obviously) that do a great job of preparing their students for successful lives — but when you cast your eye over the top 10, below, don’t feel too bad if your kids’ school doesn’t appear.

Here are the Top 10:

1. School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas
2. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia
3. School of Science and Engineering Magnet in Dallas, Texas
4. University High School in Tucson, Arizona
5. International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
6. BASIS Tucson in Tucson, Arizona
7. Oxford Academy in Cypress, California
8. Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz, California
9. International School in Bellevue, Washington
10. High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey

See the full list here.