Newsweek's High School Rankings for 2014: Two Lists Are Better Than One

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Bob O'Connor / Gallery Stock

For more than a decade, Newsweek has published an annual list of America's Top High Schools, ranked primarily according to a ratio of AP/IB exams to the number of students graduating. This year we're doing things a little differently.

Top 10 High Schools | America's Top High Schools | Beating the Odds - Top Schools for Low Income Students

With help from the research firm Westat, we present two separate rankings: an absolute list and a relative list that we're calling "America's Top High Schools for Low-Income Students." The first list identifies top-performing schools based on a metric of student achievement and college preparedness data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and from our survey of schools. Virginia's Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a long-established player in high school rankings, sits at the top of the pile.

It will come as no surprise that this list is dominated by schools in areas with high average income and low racial diversity. So we produced a second list that takes into consideration how well schools serve students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds—measured by the percentage of students qualifying for free school lunches. There is almost no overlap in the top 10 schools on each list. Thomas Jefferson was in 14th place in the second list, while the top school serving low-income students, Emma Lazarus High School in New York, was 21st on the absolute list.

We hope that providing two lists instead of one sheds light on the underlying factors often ignored or submerged in school rankings. Read on for our profiles of the schools at the top of each list.

Frequently Asked Questions | Understanding the Rankings | Mapping America's Top High Schools | Newsweek's Top High Schools Special Section

Newsweek's High School Rankings for 2014: Two Lists Are Better Than One