Updated at: 01-04-2023 - By: Eden Wise


What characteristics characterize the top U.S. secondary institutions?

They are a group of highly motivated, inquisitive, and talented young people.

Some are selective enrollment “magnet schools,” while others provide an education at no cost to students who meet the minimum requirements.

The best high schools in the United States all have adaptable curricula. Students can choose from a wide variety of advanced placement courses, honors seminars, and dual enrollment programs (which allow them to earn college credit while still in high school).

Schedules are malleable, allowing students to devote sufficient time to required and elective coursework, as well as to research and extracurricular activities.

The latter is typically allotted time during the school week.

It’s natural to worry that such prestigious schools will encourage unhealthy levels of competition among their students, but that’s not always the case.

The pressure to outperform one’s peers translates into a drive to improve oneself, even if many of the best high schools choose not to rank their students.

Students frequently engage in positive academic risks (such as enrolling in a new, challenging course or volunteering).

Our ranking of the top high schools in the country is based on each institution’s current position on the U.S. News best high schools list.

Each school’s creative markers are guaranteed to spark new ideas in you.

Best High Schools In America

Best high schools in america

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

In an effort to raise the bar for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in Fairfax County, the public school system and local businesses collaborated to found Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. This is the Northern Virginia campus of the prestigious Governor’s School for Science and Technology magnet program.

The curriculum places an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics, as well as problem-solving, critical thinking, research, curiosity, and civic engagement. All honors, gifted, AP, and post-AP courses are taught by faculty members. The school has an advanced placement exam passing rate of one hundred percent and requires students to take AP courses.

There is time built into the school day for students to engage in extracurricular activities. There are more than 150 student organizations for students to join. The institution was an early participant in the development of the National Consortium of Secondary Schools with a Focus on Math, Science, and Technology.

Admission to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is highly competitive and requires a test score, an essay, teacher recommendations, and a demonstrated record of academic success. Students are also evaluated based on their demonstrated interest and ability in studying mathematical, scientific, and technological topics.

Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School

Students with high scholastic potential from Austin’s public and private middle schools are sought out by Liberal Arts and Science Academy, a high-performing academic magnet high school. Its AP participation and success rates are both extremely high: 95% and 96%, respectively. There is a 95% acceptance rate at four-year institutions.

The courses at Liberal Arts and Science Academy are project-based and emphasize group work, independent study, and in-depth research. Signature Courses, which are taught in groups, are a central part of the curriculum at this institution. Science and humanities projects are researched, designed, implemented, and presented by student groups.

Outside of the classroom, students at Liberal Arts and Science Academy can participate in a variety of chess, debate, Future Teachers of America, and philosophy clubs and teams. French, German, Spanish, and Chinese are all taught at foreign language clubs.

The admissions process is highly selective and is based on a combination of past performance, standardized test scores, and recommendations from faculty.

Design and Architecture Senior High School

Visual communication, fine art, entertainment, and architecture are the cornerstones of education at Design and Architecture Senior High School, a magnet school for those interested in these fields. Students also have the option to take more traditional subjects like science, math, and language arts. The senior high school for design and architecture provides advanced placement, honors, and dual enrollment opportunities with regional universities.

Nearly all students (98%) take some sort of Advanced Placement (AP) course. Internships at regional design studios provide students with practical experience. Forty percent of the students at the senior high school level for Design and Architecture come from low-income families. The United States Department of Education has recognized Design and Architecture Senior High School as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

To be considered, each candidate must submit a sketchbook, provide a portfolio, and perform in an audition.

Stanton College Preparatory School

Cultural sensitivity and civic duty are emphasized at this magnet institution. Classes at this level (and higher) are available, including honors, AP, and IB. Core courses at the honors and AP levels are available to students at Stanton College Preparatory School. Ninety-nine percent of students enroll in the IB program, and every single one of them successfully completes it.

Students at Stanton College Preparatory School have the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school thanks to the school’s articulation agreements with University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville.

There are over fifty different clubs and organizations at the school, ranging from academic teams to service clubs to musical ensembles to honor societies. The Department of Education gave Stanton College Preparatory School the Blue Ribbon Award for being an outstanding educational institution.

Downingtown STEM Academy

Downingtown STEM Academy

The Downingtown STEM Academy in Downingtown, PA, is a highly regarded public magnet school. Each and every student at this IB World School has the chance to complete the IB Diploma Programme. Academic work is difficult and demanding, requiring students to adopt a growth-oriented and determined mindset. Ninety percent of students enrolled are active members of the IB community.

A student must earn at least 75% of the credits they need in each category through more conventional means. With the exception of dual enrollment courses, a student’s grades do not factor into their grade point average.

Many extracurricular activities, including those available at the student’s neighborhood school, are available to them here. Prerequisite courses, an essay, teacher recommendations, and an interview are all necessary for admission.

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology

Gwinnett has developed strong relationships with local businesses and colleges to link students to authentic, experiential learning opportunities in bioscience, engineering, and emerging technologies that are organized by grade.

For instance, once a year, students in grades 9–10 can attend a speaker series featuring local business owners, artists, and other leaders, and students in grades 10–12 can travel to local STEM institutions.

Junior year typically consists of an internship lasting a semester, followed by a senior year capstone project.

Each of the seven segments of the school day lasts about 45 minutes. There is some leeway built into the curriculum at each grade level. For example, in ninth grade, students must take six core subjects and one elective, which can be anything from robotics to human geography to digital media.

Central Magnet School

Central Magnet School

John Ash, a veteran educator of 34 years and the first principal of Central Magnet, is at the helm. Students’ eligibility for admission is determined by their grades and standardized test scores, and they must be residents of Rutherford County to apply.

A total of 1,244 students in grades 6-12 apply to join the community, with admission given to those who have the highest point totals.

Understandably, competition for admission is high; only 37% of applicants are accepted. Ninety-nine percent of CMS students continue their education at a four-year institution.

Colleges like MIT, Clemson, and Emory benefit greatly from the scholarship money that their graduates receive. More than $12 million in scholarships were awarded to members of the class of 2020, or an average of $63,554 each.

Nearly 80% of the faculty at Central Magnet have at least a master’s degree, and the school has earned STEAM accreditation. The majority of these teachers have been in the classroom for at least 15 years and are in charge of one of the 29 AP options.

Davidson Academy of Nevada

The Davidson Academy is the first fully-funded public middle/high school in the country designed specifically for students who are exceptionally gifted and talented. It was conceived by the same innovator/philanthropist team responsible for the widely-used education software programs MathBlasterTM and ReadingBlasterTM.

Students can take either in-person or virtual classes that are divided into ability rather than age-based cohorts.

With only 163 students enrolled from 20 zip codes, Davidson offers a small class size, a diverse student body, and a variety of scheduling options thanks to its small size and high teacher-to-student ratio (10:1).

Many students volunteer their ideas for electives to be offered on Fridays, which are broken up into three 2-hour blocks with 15 options per period. Possibly even some students will be teaching options!

Both an “as quickly as possible” and an “as appropriate” tempo are used in the classroom. The former type of institution serves families whose priorities lie in having their children finish high school as quickly as possible, usually between the ages of 16 and 17.

The latter approach pays closer attention to each student and their unique requirements for academic challenge.

Signature School

The Signature School is a community-based educational institution that is located in a historic riverfront hotel that dates back to the 1920s. The public charter school has 21 Advanced Placement (AP) courses and 24 International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available to its 369 9th through 12th grade students.

Each Signature student must complete 100 hours of community service as part of their Signature experience.

The Wesselman Nature Society, Funk in the City, and the Arthritis Foundation are just a few of the local organizations where signature scholars could make connections.

You name the subfield, and the institution has probably partnered with a local organization that specializes in it.

The best part? Because it is a public charter school, enrollment is open to anyone who wants to take advantage of the school’s lack of fees. The school receives many applications each year, so naturally they use a lottery system to determine who gets in.

Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science (Mass Academy)

Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, Mass. Academy is open to students of both sexes.

Students in high school who are particularly strong in math, science, and technology are targeted.

There is a Junior Year Program and a Senior Year Program available to students at Mass Academy.

The School for the Talented & Gifted (TAG)

The School for the Talented & Gifted (TAG)

TAG, located in Dallas, Texas, is a public magnet high school that focuses on college prep. The Dallas Independent School District includes this high school, which serves students in grades 9 through 12.

The TAG program incorporates grade-specific seminars, as well as interdisciplinary activities like TREK and TAG-IT.

High Technology High School

Students in New Jersey’s ninth through twelfth grades can attend High Technology High School, a public magnet school.

This academy prepares students for careers in engineering by stressing the mutual relevance of STEM disciplines and the humanities.

Bronx High School of Science

The Bronx High School of Science in New York City is a public magnet school that focuses on science and technology. The New York City Department of Education runs it.

Course options for students include those in the Honors, AP, and Elective tracks.

South Carolina Governor’s School for School and Mathematics (SCGSSM)

Hartsville, South Carolina is home to SCGSSM, a public boarding school that caters to academically talented and self-driven students.

It provides a residential high school experience for two years, as well as a virtual high school, summer camps, and community service initiatives.

There is an emphasis on STEM subjects at SCGSSM.

The Lawrenceville School

The Lawrenceville School is a boarding and day school for both genders in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Lawrence Township in Mercer County, New Jersey.

At Lawrenceville, we value student voice and encourage students to teach and be taught by one another through the Harkness method.

The academic opportunities available to Lawrenceville School students include advanced research, experiential learning, and unique projects.


What Makes a Good High School?

A high-quality secondary institution consistently outperforms its peers academically. Educators in good institutions are given the tools they need to best serve their students. In addition, they work to create a safe and supportive environment for their students.

Which State Has the Best Public Schools?

When compared to other states’ public schools, those in Massachusetts performed exceptionally well on standardized tests of mathematics and reading comprehension and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

Where is America ranked in Education?

The American educational system is unparalleled. Students in the United States consistently outperform students from many other countries in only two subjects: math and science. In 2018, the United States ranked 38th in math and 24th in science, according to a report by Business Insider.

What is the number 1 high school in America?

When it comes to public high schools in the United States, none compare to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST).


Standardized test scores are a major factor in determining admission to the nation’s most selective public high schools. This is because admission to many of America’s top public schools is extremely competitive.

Most private American high schools are less selective than American public universities, but they cost a lot more. Standardized test scores may be submitted, but they are not required.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you choose a public or private high school, what matters is that the education you receive there is excellent.

It’s safe to say the United States ranks among the world’s top study destinations. So, if you’re trying to decide where to go to school, the United States is an excellent option.