U.S. News will release new numerical rankings of the top public high schools nationally and in each state when the 2015 edition of Best High Schools is published on May 12.
The rankings provide a measure of how well high schools are serving all of their students as they prepare for college and careers. In addition to highlighting schools that have earned gold, silver and bronze medals under the U.S. News methodology, the rankings include school-specific data on enrollment, diversity, participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs, and the results of state assessments and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.
Data for more than 21,150 public high schools will be published on usnews.com, providing a resource for those who want to research and compare.
The comprehensive U.S. News rankings methodology -- which reflects how well high schools serve all of their students, not just those who are planning to go to college -- was implemented by RTI International to create the rankings. The Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based firm is one of the world's leading research institutes.
The rankings, which will only be published online, include an analysis of detailed statistical information from the 2012-2013 school year. Data for schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were evaluated.
The rankings methodology sets out a three-step process to determine the top high schools on the national level. The first two steps use each state's proficiency test standards and factor in student demographic and economic characteristics to find schools that serve all their students well and perform better than expectations.
The schools that make it past these first two steps move on to a third step that measures how well they prepare students for college. U.S. News looks at student participation rates in AP and IB tests -- as well as the proportion of students taking the tests who pass -- to identify the highest-scoring schools.
U.S. News has determined, based on the application of the three-step methodology, that 6,517 schools out of the 19,753 that were eligible for the rankings will receive national recognition in this year's edition of Best High Schools. The highest-scoring schools -- those with numerical ranks from No. 1 to No. 500 -- will receive gold medals for demonstrating the greatest level of college readiness.
The next highest-scoring group -- those ranked No. 501 to No. 2,527 -- will receive silver medals for earning college readiness scores that put them at or above the midpoint for all schools. The next group of 3,990 schools will earn bronze medals and will be listed alphabetically.
A school's rank, medal color or whether it was ranked at all will depend on how high it scored in all three steps of the Best High Schools rankings methodology. A much more detailed Best High Schools methodology will be published when the rankings are released in May.
In addition to the main national rankings, U.S. News will release new numerical rankings for the top high schools in each state, as well as the Best High Schools for STEM, Best Charter Schools and Best Magnet Schools on a national level.
Media representatives: To get access to 2015 Best High Schools rankings materials, please email Education-PR@usnews.com.