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U.S. News & World Report Unveils 2021 Best High Schools Rankings

RTI supported the collection and analysis of data behind the rankings for the seventh straight year

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — U.S. News & World Report today released its 2021 Best High Schools rankings, highlighting top-performing public schools on a state and national level. For the seventh year in a row, U.S. News collaborated with RTI International, a leading nonprofit research institute, to research and produce the rankings.

In this year’s rankings, which includes nearly 18,000 high schools, the top three schools were Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, Academic Magnet in Charleston, South Carolina and The Davidson Academy of Nevada in Reno, Nevada.

Researchers at RTI, led by senior researcher Elisabeth Hensley, helped collect and analyze the data behind the rankings using a methodology that used six factors: (1) college readiness, (2) reading and math proficiency, (3) reading and math performance, (4) underserved student performance, (5) college curriculum breadth and (6) graduation rates. Specifically, college readiness measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement® (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests.

"Families can use the Best High Schools rankings to see how schools compare at the national, state and local level on factors like graduation rates and college readiness," said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. "The rankings also provide insight into academic performance among underserved groups.”

In addition to the main national rankings, U.S. News released numerical rankings for all the high schools in each state, including 1,975 charter and 924 magnet schools, found in separate Best Charter Schools and Best Magnet Schools rankings.

RTI remains committed to providing measures to help students and families understand their schooling options as education systems grapple with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the 2021 Best High Schools rankings rely on data collected before the COVID-19 pandemic, future data will allow RTI researchers to contribute to understanding the impact that COVID-19 has had on school systems.

To learn more about RTI’s K-12 education work, visit: www.rti.org/practice-area/k-12-education