Charter Schools Overachieve in 2020 Best Public High Schools List

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Group of diverse high school students

The U.S. News & World Report released the 2020 rankings of the best high schools in the public school sector earlier this year. We were pleased—but not surprised—to see charter schools had an outsized performance in the rankings again this year.

Though charter schools make up only 10% of public high schools, they made up 21% of the top 100 best high schools list—nearly double the proportion of overall number of schools.

When we take a closer look at the top 5 percent of schools, the performance of charter schools looks even better with charter schools accounting for 18% of those schools and 24% of schools in the top 1%

A graph listing the percent of district, magnet, and charter schools included in the U.S. News & World Report 2020 ranking of best public high schools, both in numbers and percentage-wise

The ranking methodology draws from data for the 2017-2018 school year, using both state and federal datasets. In addition, the College Board and International Baccalaureate (IB) provided data on their respective college-prep programs, Advanced Placement (AP), and IB.

These are the six indicators of school quality used to calculate the rankings:

  1. College readiness, based on the proportions of 12th grade students who took and passed AP and/or IB exams.
  2. College curriculum breadth, based on proportions of 12th grade students who took and passed AP and/or IB exams in multiple content areas.
  3. Math and reading proficiency, based on student performance on state-required tests.
  4. Math and reading performance, based on whether performance on state assessments exceeded expectations given the school's proportion of underserved students.
  5. Underserved student performance, based on how black, Hispanic and low-income students performed on state assessments compared with those who are not underserved in the state.
  6. Graduation rates, based on the proportion of students who entered ninth grade in 2013-2014 and graduated four years later.

Congratulations again to the charter schools and high school students who outperformed! Keep up the great work.


Melinda Tolliver is the senior manager of digital strategy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.