Curious to know more about the best public high schools in the US, and how your high school compares with others in the country?
It’s an undeniable fact that there are public high schools that are better and more effective than others at helping students prepare for life after school – be it in college or at work.
Well, this piece will highlight the top public high schools in the United States based on a number of factors. Some of the factors used when ranking the best public high schools in America include;
- SAT/ACT Scores
- Student graduation rates
- Strength of their curriculum
- State proficiency tests results
- Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate participation rates
- Student-teacher ratio
- College-bound students percentage
- Performance of disadvantaged students
- Reliable students reviews
- Facilities and student activities
Best Public High Schools in the US
That being said, below are the top 10 best public high schools in America in 2021.
1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is one of the best public high schools in the US and teaches all the courses at the Honors, Gifted, AP, and Post-AP level. AP classes are mandatory for all students.
The school offers an extensive STEM-based curriculum that includes linear algebra, quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence, neurobiology, marine biology, organic chemistry, and DNA science. The school curriculum also emphasizes foreign languages and humanities. Students are required to participate in activities included in the instructional day, with more than 150+ clubs and activities available.
With English, Biology, and Technology forming the core of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s curriculum, student research is an important element of the curriculum and each student is required to complete an experimental or engineering research project.
It’s worth noting that the school is among the founding members of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. Being one of the best public high schools in the US makes it hard for students to get admitted to the school.
A student looking for admission must undertake an entrance exam and do a personal essay. Having a great academic achievement history will play an instrumental role in increasing one’s chances of being selected, with a demonstration of aptitude and passion for studies in scientific, mathematical, and technological fields an indispensable assessment factor.
2. Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School
Known for recruiting only the best students from public and private middle schools in Austin, Texas, Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School is a true academic magnet institution with more than 95% of its students taking Advanced Placement classes.
Students take the Advanced Placement (AP) exams with a pass rate of 96%, and the school’s matriculation rate to four-year colleges and universities currently stands at 95.5%. The school provides project-based programs that rely to a large extent on discussion and seminar-style delivery of course information.
The school has several sports and activities for students to participate in as well as clubs to join. Some foreign language clubs include German, French, Latin, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School is also known to have very competitive admissions based on previous academic achievements, test scores as well as teacher recommendations.
3. Carnegie Vanguard High School
Carnegie Vanguard High School offers pre-AP, AP, and Honors electives courses. More than 97% of their students matriculate to 4-year colleges and universities, with their remarkable performance in AP tests worth mentioning.
Considered among the best public high schools in America, Carnegie Vanguard High School’s graduation requirements include doing 100 hours of community service and taking 10 Advanced Placement courses.
Students can choose from a variety of clubs and activities, which are mostly tailored for community service, academics, and honing talent skills. Among the admission requirements include universal assessment scores, teacher recommendations, academic transcripts, and/or a gifted/talented identification.
4. Gilbert Classical Academy
Gilbert Classical Academy is one of the best public high schools in the United States that focus on the Socratic method of instruction. The school’s integrated, rigorous curriculum offers Honors and Advanced Placement courses, a perfect choice for students who wish to advance to college after high school.
All students at the school are required to take AP courses and exams, with their pass rate of around 98%. The school also has a number of clubs, arts, and sports activities the students can participate in.
It’s also worth noting that students are required to complete 80 hours of community service as well as defend a Senior Thesis Project before graduating.
5. University High School
University High School is one of the leading college preparatory schools and provides a curriculum in Mathematics, Science, English, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Modern Languages with the academic courses being Honors or Advanced Placement courses. All the students are also required to sit for an AP exam. The school offers several foreign languages, including French, German and Chinese.
The University High School, which bases its admissions on qualifying scores on the Cognitive Abilities entrance exam as well as grade point average for the previous two semesters prior to enrollment, has a partnership with the University of Arizona to offer concurrent enrollment to students who wish to undertake an engineering program.
The school, ranked high among the best public high schools in America, also shares a campus with Rincon High School and their students can attend classes offered at the school. The two schools also share a few of their clubs, and their students compete in regional, state, and national academic competitions.
6. Design and Architecture Senior High School
Design and Architecture Senior High School is a magnet public high school that provides students with a strong foundation in fashion, fine art, visual communications, architecture, industrial design, and entertainment with science, math, and language arts courses available for students to enroll for.
The school offers Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors levels courses with students also able to enjoy dual-enrollment courses with local colleges. Its status as one of the best public high schools in the US is further boosted by the school’s internship connections that help students get real-world experience and the inclusion of economically disadvantaged students in the school’s student body.
Design and Architecture Senior High School is a recipient of the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence recognition from the U.S. Department of Education. For any student who wishes to join the school, they must submit sketchbooks and portfolios and also complete an audition.
7. International Academy
International Academy is devoted to offering International Baccalaureate studies and it’s mandatory for their students to attend all IB courses and sit for their respective exams. The school provides a blend of academic and practical, career-related learning.
The school’s curriculum focuses on eight main subjects: English, humanities, science, arts, mathematics, technology, education, and a second language. The school also offers Honors classes as part of its Middle Years Program.
The school, which has three campuses (the East Campus, the Okma Campus, and the West Campus), mandates its students to complete 150 hours of community service or co-curricular activities to be eligible to graduate. International Academy selects students for admission through a lottery.
8. Stanton College Preparatory School
Considered among the best public high schools in the US is Stanton College Preparatory School, which is a magnet school located in Jacksonville, Florida. The school offers Honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate courses, with more than 98% of their students participating in the IB program.
Students at Stanton College Preparatory School can also obtain college credit through the school’s partnership with Florida State College at Jacksonville and the University of North Florida. The school is a recipient of the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence recognition from the U.S. Department of Education.
9. Downingtown STEM Academy
Downingtown STEM Academy is one of the top-rated public high schools in the United States and is a magnet school located in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. It is an International Baccalaureate World School offering International Baccalaureate Diploma.
Its curriculum focuses on Mathematics, Science, Engineering, and Technology, with its students getting engaged in rigorous academic tasks aimed at honing their skills and sharpening their intellect.
Admission requirements to Downingtown STEM Academy include an interview, prerequisite courses, teacher recommendation as well as a written essay.
10. Staten Island Technical High School
Tenth on our list of the best public high schools in the US is Staten Island Technical High School, which is part of a group of schools that have been given Specialized High School status by the NYC Department of Education. The school’s curriculum gives more emphasis to Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Computer courses.
Other fields of study at the high school include humanities, health, fitness, and performing arts. Once enrolled, every student must take introductory programs in robotics, electronics, TV/movie production as well as research and technical writing.
According to the school, 100% of their students enroll for Advanced Placement courses, with a pass rate of 94%. The high school also offers College Dual-Enrollment Program and Early College Initiative.
Enrollment to Staten Island Technical High School is one of the most competitive processes, with students being subjected to Specialized High School Admissions Test.
Best Public High Schools in the US
Considering the fact that there are more than 24,000 public high schools in the United States, coming up with clear and outright best public high schools is no mean task. However, we have highlighted just a few of the best high schools you might want to consider.