Best High Schools Of 2021

No one enters the college without first passing through high school. A high school is a place where students get to explore their interests, get involved in diverse extracurricular activities and also get the freedom to choose their classes in preparation for college and subsequently, their careers.

There are uncountable high schools within and outside the state, depending on your choice. There are also public and private schools, each serving a unique purpose. Getting into the best of these is very necessary. This is because the high school you attended has a way of shaping your future and career. You must choose right. Among all the numerous high schools, some stand out and offer outstanding teaching and extracurricular benefits. They already have excellent track records that may not be easy to beat and so, with them, the future success of their students is secure.

Find out how these schools compete uniquely against one another. The high school rankings in this article are adjudged based on several factors like statistics, reviews, and other data obtained from the US Department of Education, Niche, and other top reviewing platforms.

What Are School Rankings?

It was until the early 80’s that school rankings became famous with US News and World Report ranking colleges in 1983. They sent out surveys to schools to rank their top schools. Some considerations go into rankings and they include acceptance rate, average SAT scores, graduation rates, financial aids, and many more.

Why Are High Schools Ranked?

Schools vary in terms of competitiveness, resources, and ranking system. High schools are ranked to offer you an unprecedented look at how much the school makes efforts in serving their students. The aim is to enable you to make an unbiased decision about your child’s high school education. It also shows how schools fare against one another within a given geographical location.

In addition, high-performing schools are recognized which inspires and challenges other schools and educators to do better. The top-ranked schools have a high rate of students who scored more than anticipated in mathematics and reading state assessments as well as passed a range of college-level examinations while graduating within a four-year stipulation.  

Consider your preferences in academics, location, major, career, and financial options. At this point, you may have a selection of schools that meet your criteria. Take a look at the top-ranked because they will show you the school that will have a wider probability of positive outcomes. In other words, aside from the rankings, what should matter to you is the school that meets your desire and is a good match for your child.

Types of High Schools

The high school your child attends has a way of rubbing off on the type of education they receive. Here are the types of high schools that exist:

Public High School

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education policy indicates that every student must receive free and inclusive public education. Some public schools provide combined and digital learning opportunities for STEM and computer science classes as well as rural and remote learners.  Others offer enhanced learning, post-secondary, and music, and arts programs. 

Chartered High Schools

Charter high schools places focus on creating classrooms that support the needs of the students. Charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer. The schools must adhere to the standards stipulated for academic performance in their charter and communities. 
Charter schools do not segregate as they admit students of all backgrounds and social statuses. The teachers ensure to deliver excellent and innovative academic practices. 

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools do not also consider the backgrounds, social-economic statuses, and achievements of the students before enrolling them. They are mostly tuition-free and adopt a lottery system of admission. 

Magnet schools integrate STEM, fine and performing arts, international baccalaureates, international studies, career, and technical education as well as world languages into their coursework. They must abide by state criteria and every so often beat anticipated learning outcomes.

Ranking Methodology

Most ranking methodologies take the following benchmarks:

  • Strength of the school curriculum 
  • AP or IB participation rate
  • Reading and math results
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Size of the student population
  • Facilities, clubs and activities provided
  • Percentage of college-bound students
  • Performance of disadvantaged students
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Geographical multiplicity

Best High Schools According to their Rankings

Below are the top 20 schools, their tuition, and how they are ranked, including some briefs about them.

1. Thomas Jefferson High Schools for Science and Technology
Alexandria, VA

  • District – Fairfax County Public Schools
  • #1 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness
  • Tuition: in the range of $30,900 and $60,050, depending on your package plan.

Established in 1985, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was established through the partnership of businesses and schools created to improve education in science, mathematics, and education. Unlike other magnet schools, it has a four-year, full-day program.

The entry requirements of Thomas Jefferson High for Science and Technology are very strict. It includes an entrance examination, a personal essay, recommendations, and a history of high academic achievements. It also features a student’s ability to establish skill and passion for studies in the mathematical, scientific, and technological fields in the admission process.

2. Academic Magnet High School North Charleston, SC

  • District – Charleston County School District
  • #2 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness

Academic Magnet High School enrolls students through an academic process that is based on middle school grades, test scores, teacher recommendations, and written essays. Each student of Academic Magnet High School must complete 90 hours of community service, take and pass at least four AP courses, compete on a summer reading list as well as complete a senior thesis. The school has more than 50 student clubs and numerous sports teams. Before enrolment, each applicant must provide a written essay, middle school grades, test scores, and teacher recommendations.

3. The Davidson Academy School District Reno, NV

  • District – Davidson Academy School District
  • #3 in National Rankings 
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness
  • Tuition: $15,000 

The Davidson Academy believes that every student should be challenged, engaged, and supported in a learning environment that puts no restrictions on their achievements. They help the students stretch their intellects, explore their passions, develop their sense of self and community. The students, in addition, learn at a level that suits their abilities in an environment that recognizes and nurtures their potential.

4. Payton College Preparatory High School Chicago, IL

  • District – Chicago public schools
  • #4 in National Rankings
  • 98% graduation rate
  • 99.3 college readiness

Payton College or simply Payton is a top-rated public school with a four-year selective enrolment. It offers the students a sense of belonging and their identity centered and celebrated in the curriculum and culture.

The school focuses its curriculum on honors and AP courses in science, mathematics, humanities, language, and many other subjects. Foreign language courses like French, Japanese, Chinese, Latin, and Spanish are also featured in the school curriculum. Payton College Preparatory High School is a Blue Ribbon Award school and an Intel School of Distinction. 

5. School for Advanced Studies (SAS) Miami, FL

  • District: Miami – Dade County Public Schools
  • #5 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 95.5 College Readiness
  • Tuition is waived

School for Advanced Studies is a nationally recognized collegiate high school of excellence.  It offers the students the opening for stepping up and improvement which makes it easier for an only motivated and excellent student to on the school. Many of the students specialize in STEM and their professional educators are dedicated and oriented with a growth mindset.

6. Sumner Academy of Arts and Science 

  • Location – Kansas City, KS
  • District – Kansas City Public School
  • #6 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 95.4 college readiness
  • Tuition: $11,934

Sumner Academy of Arts and Science is a nationally ranked magnet school in Kansas that gets the students ready for high-level academic and creative quests. It was established in 1905 as a school for black students and offered vocational and college-preparatory training.

7. Merrol Hyde Magnet School

  • Location – Hendersonville, TN
  • District – Sumner County
  • #7 in National Rankings
  • N/A graduation rate
  • 94.3 college readiness
  • Average tuition: $8,772

Merrol Hyde is an academic magnet that focuses on foreign languages. Their focus is on the learning experience and growth of the students individually. The curriculum is embedded with rigor to challenge the students at an accelerated pace.

8. BASIS Chandler 

  • Location – Chandler, AZ
  • District – BASIS Charter Schools Inc.
  • #8 in National Rankings
  • 99% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness
  • Tuition: free

Established in 2011, BASIS Chandler is a tuition-free public charter school. It comprises diverse students who share the spirit of determination and achieve success through an excellent academic community. The curriculum is nationally acclaimed. 

9. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology

  • Location – Lawrenceville, GA
  • District – Gwinnett County
  • #9 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 98.4 College Readiness

The school was established to nurture the talents and high potential of the students through a unique, challenging, and integrated curriculum that focuses on mathematics, science, and technology. The school fosters development and instills in the students the ability to have a grip of world-class education as well as develop meaningful relationships. The students compete in the global market as they pursue their career opportunities. The school has digital media production facilities for sound video as well as science labs and large project spaces for students in different fields.

The school has several students’ clubs, including architecture, debate, and robotics. 70% of its students are in college within one year of graduation. Some of the students are economically disadvantaged. In addition, the school uses a lottery system for admissions.

10. Signature School

  • Location – Evansville, IN
  • Ditrict – Signature School Inc
  • #10 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness
  • Tuition: free

Established in 2002 in Indiana, Signature School is a charter high school. Its mission, among others, is to meet the needs of self-motivated learners in a liberal environment accelerated by world-class issues. The emphasis is on rigor and excellence in academics, arts, integrated technologies, and community service.

11. Oxford Academy

  • Location – Cypress, CA
  • District – Anaheim Union High
  • #11 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 98.1 college readiness

Oxford Academy is a public school in cypress, California, and part of the Anaheim Union High School District. 

12. Townsend Harris High School

  • Location – Flushing, NY
  • District – New York City Public School
  • #12 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 97.4 college readiness

Townsend Harris was reestablished in 1984 by the joint efforts of its alumni. It is a public magnet for the humanities. A minimum grade point average of 95 is needed for any candidate to be considered for admission. Students and alumni of the school refer to themselves as ‘Harrisites’. As one of the most desired schools in New York City, Townsend combines rigorous academics with an all-around high school experience. It has a friendly and calm vibe, with students feeling at ease chatting with teachers and staff. The school has several club activities that focus on academics and community service. Candidates must possess outstanding standardized test scores as well as admirable attendance and punctuality.

13. The School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG)

  • Location – Dallas, TX
  • Dallas Independent School District
  • #13 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness
  • Tuition and other expenses: $59,800

The TAG or TAG Magnet is a public project preparatory magnet secondary school. It is famous for its liberal arts, Advanced Placement Program, and intensive education style. In addition, TAG offers many prospects for academic, civic, and personal enrichment through its extensive and diverse honor societies, academic competitions, clubs, and organizations. 

14. Tesla STEM High School

  • Location – Redmond, WA
  • District – Lak Washington School District
  • #16 in National Ranking
  • 99% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness 

Formerly STEM High School, Tesla STEM High School is the number one high school in Washington. It offers a STEM-based curriculum and operates as a magnet program. Students are admitted on a lottery basis with 150 students per grade for a total enrollment of 600. The school also focuses on highly adaptable laboratory or studio spaces. Tesla STEM is one of the nine Washington state schools to earn awards for achieving high female representation in AP computer sciences. 

15. Julia R. Masterman Secondary School

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • District: Philadelphia City School District
  • 18 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 89.5 college readiness

The Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School is a Philadelphia middle and high school. It is a magnet school in the Spring Garden community.

Masterman is ranked first in both the Philadelphia School District and the state of Pennsylvania.  It is regarded as one of the best public college-preparatory schools in the country. The school has been named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence on two occasions.

16. The Early College at Guilford

  • Location: Greensboro, NC
  • District: Guilford County Schools
  • #20 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness
  • Tuition: $5,759

The Early College at Guilford has the mandate to make a positive impact in the lives of the students as they provide excellent and unique educational prospects that support academic development at the highest levels. It builds bridges between the high school, college, and the outer world, by seeking to awaken and nurture the creative, social, and academic abilities of the students. 

17. International School of Beaverton 

  • District – Beaverton School District 48J
  • #21 in National Rankings
  • 00% graduation rate
  • 99.1 college readiness

International School of Beaverton is an option school located in the Beaverton School District. It offers IB courses and completes additional work for the Middle Years Programme. It was established in 1996.

18. Brooklyn Technical High School

  • Location – Brooklyn, NY
  • District – New York City Public Schools
  • #22 in National Rankings
  • 98% graduation rate
  • 98.3 college readiness

Commonly called Brooklyn Tech, Brooklyn Technical High School is an elite New York public magnet high school. Its specialty is in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and they are college-styled systems of major. It is seen as one of the country’s most prestigious and specialized high schools. It offers an exciting environment for students who enjoy designing, building, and working with their hands. This is borne out of the belief that students can enjoy learning more when they can touch, feel and do things. 

Every student must complete 50 hours of community service and earn 32 service credits through school teams, clubs, and other school events. Economically disadvantaged learners make up 64% of the student body. Additionally, the school is a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialised Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

19. International Academy of Macomb Clinton Township, MI

  • District – Chippewa Valley Schools
  • #24 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 95.9 college readiness
  • Tuition: no tuition is required but students are expected to pay an initial $150 that covers computer fees.

Officially designated as an IB World School, the International Academy of Macomb was established in the spring of 2008. It is a public high school in the Chippewa Valley School District. It has a student-teacher ratio of 93.1:1. 

20. Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies Edison, NJ

  • District: Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District
  • #27 in National Rankings
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100 college readiness

The school offers a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum that provides opportunities for the students to develop their skills and knowledge needed for advancement in engineering. It is a highly focused four-year full-time academic program for Middlesex County’s students. It integrates technology at the center of its multidisciplinary studies.


Finding the best high schools may not be difficult if you can focus on their rankings. We hope the above schools will help you make the best and informed decision regarding your high school.


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