The Best Public High Schools in the U.S.

| TBS Staff

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Curious about how your high school compares with others when it comes to preparing you for the next step? No matter your plans after high school — college degree or entering the workforce — an adequate foundation for life after high school is necessary. However, some public high schools are more effective than others at helping students prepare for successful transitions.

A great high school provides a highly developed curriculum, and a wide range of extracurricular activities that address the needs of all students. College preparatory and vocational courses are made available so that students can earn college credits or certifications during their high school experience, easing their entry into both college and career.

Types of High Schools

Public High School

Public high schools typically provide college preparatory courses, general education courses and remedial courses. Some school districts provide college preparatory high schools for high-performing students. These high schools typically classify the courses as Honors, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate.

Charter High Schools

Organizations, communities and parent groups typically establish charter schools to serve specific high school student populations, fulfill specific needs or adhere to special curricula or instructional practices.

Charter high schools have the freedom to use innovation. Teachers can use innovative teaching methods, however the schools are held accountable for advancing student achievement. The charter establishes metrics and goals to hold schools accountable. Charter schools are also held accountable to federal and state standards.

Charter high schools provide input in the curriculum and they have the opportunity to change materials to meet students' needs. Charter high schools typically create a school culture or adopt a theme. Charter schools may focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); performing arts, college preparation, language immersion, career readiness and more.

Chart high schools are tuition-free, they receive public funding and support, however charter schools may enroll students from anywhere in the school district and they are not required to adhere to district regulations. Charter schools must have an open enrollment policy. A Board of Directors operates a charter school.

Charter high schools operate through a charter between state education officials and community or school leaders. The charter establishes the student population, mission, program, as well as methods of assessment and evaluation. Schools can renew the charter, which typically lasts from three to five years.

Charter schools receive funding from federal, state and local tax dollars, based on student enrollment. About 67 percent of charter schools operate as independent non-profits single site schools. Non-profits, which operate more than one charter school, operate about 20 percent of charter schools and for-profit companies operate the rest of the charter schools.

Magnet High Schools

Magnet high schools are free public schools, they attract a wide variety of students based on their interests in a school theme. Magnet high schools typically have a diverse student population, they have students from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Magnet high schools typically have a mode of instruction, a special education theme, subject emphasis or other major characteristics. Magnet schools may provide modes of instruction such as experimental, Montessori, traditional or other types of instruction.

Magnet schools typically use an inquiry or performance/project based learning style. Magnet high schools use district, state or Common Core standards in every subject area, however the schools teach the subjects based on the theme of the school.

Magnet schools often provide curricular areas including fine and performing arts, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), International Baccalaureate (IB), MicroSociety, career and technical association, world languages and more.

School districts or a consortium of school districts operate magnet schools.

Many magnet schools do not use an entrance criteria, however some of these schools have a competitive admissions process. Many magnet schools use a computer-based lottery system admissions process, however “Talented & Gifted” magnet schools may use teacher and parent recommendations and students assessment data to select students. Magnet high schools can enroll students from anywhere in the school district.

Many magnet schools believe in diversity. Magnet schools promote equal access to unique educational opportunities for minority students, who otherwise attend a regular school based on residence.

Top 25 Public High Schools in the U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the United States has more than 24,000 public secondary schools. Explore some of the top high schools in the country below.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Alexandria, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was created in partnership between Fairfax County Public Schools and the business community to improve student education in mathematics, science and technology. The high school serves as the regional magnet Governor’s School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia. The curriculum’s core skills and values emphasize problem solving skills, critical inquiry and research, intellectual curiosity and social responsibility. The high school teaches all the courses at the Honors, Gifted, AP, or Post-AP level. Students must participate in AP classes. AP participation and pass rate are 100 percent. Students may also earn college credits during high school.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology offers an extensive STEM-based curriculum including artificial intelligence, DNA science, neurobiology, linear algebra, organic chemistry, quantum mechanics, and marine biology. The curriculum also emphasizes the humanities and foreign languages. The heart of the school’s curriculum includes biology, English, and technology.

Student research has an essential role in learning at the high school. Students must complete an original engineering or experimental research project.

Students participating in the mentorship program are involved in research and/or project development at mentoring agencies including universities, government institutions, and corporations throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.

Students must participate in an activities period included in the instructional day. Students can obtain academic support and participate in any of 150+ clubs and activities.

The school is one of the founding members of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has very stringent entry requirements, including an entrance exam, a personal essay, recommendations from others, and a history of high academic achievement. Students’ demonstrated aptitude and passion for studies in the mathematical, scientific and technological fields are very important factors in the admissions process.

Carnegie Vanguard High School

Houston, Texas

Carnegie Vanguard High School, a community-centered magnet school, has a curriculum which consists of AP courses, pre-AP courses, and Honors electives. All students at the school are identified as gifted and talented in academics. In addition, 100 percent of students take the AP exam and pass. 98 percent of students matriculated to four year colleges or universities.

Graduation requirements include performing 100 hours of community service and taking ten Advanced Placement courses. Carnegie Vanguard High School offers a variety of clubs focusing on community service and academics.

Admission requirements require universal assessment scores, teacher recommendation, transcript, and/or a gifted and talented identification.

Liberal Arts and Science Academy High School

Austin, Texas

Liberal Arts and Science Academy, an advanced academic magnet high school, recruits the most academically advanced students from public and private middle schools in Austin, TX. 95 percent of the students take Advanced Placement classes. AP courses offered include everything from statistics to music theory, offering plenty of variety. All students take the AP exam with a pass rate of 96 percent. The matriculation rate to four-year colleges and universities is 95.5 percent.

Liberal Arts and Science Academy provides project-based courses, which rely heavily on discussion and seminar style delivery of course information as well as the use, interpretation, and delivery of research. Signature Courses, collaborative in nature, are one of the cornerstones of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy. Student groups research, design, implement, and present projects in the sciences and humanities.

Outside the classroom, Liberal Arts and Science Academy offers a plethora of sports teams and clubs for students to participate in. Available clubs include chess, debate, Future Teachers of America, and philosophy. Foreign language clubs include French, German, Japanese, Latin, Spanish and Chinese.

The high school has competitive admissions, based on previous accomplishments, test scores, and teacher recommendations.

Gilbert Classical Academy

Gilbert, Arizona

Gilbert Classical Academy features an integrated, rigorous curriculum with a focus on the Socratic method of instruction. The school prepares students for college-level study by only offering Honors and Advanced Placement courses. All students participate in AP courses. All students take the AP exam with a pass rate of 98 percent.

Gilbert Classical Academy enhances its curriculum with a number of fine arts, clubs, and athletics.

Students must complete 80 hours of community service and defend a Senior Thesis Project.

Enrollment at Gilbert Classical Academy requires that students meet prerequisite course completion.

Design and Architecture Senior High School

Miami, Florida

Design and Architecture Senior High School, a magnet school, provides students with a solid foundation in fashion, visual communications, fine art, entertainment, industrial design, and architecture. Students also enroll in traditional science, math, and language arts courses.

Design and Architecture Senior High School offers courses at the AP and Honors levels as well as dual enrollment courses with local colleges. 98 percent of students enroll in AP courses.

Students can gain real-world experience through internships with local design firms.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 40 percent of the Design and Architecture Senior High School student body.

Design and Architecture Senior High School received Blue Ribbon School of Excellence recognition from the U.S. Department of Education.

Regardless of desired program, all applicants must submit sketchbooks and portfolios as well as complete an audition.

University High School

Tucson, Arizona

University High School, a college preparatory school, provides curriculum in mathematics, science, social studies, English, fine arts and modern languages. The high school serves academically-focused and intellectually-gifted students through the curriculum and social support. All academic courses are Honors or Advanced Placement courses. All students are required to take the AP exam. The school offers a variety of foreign languages, including Chinese, French, and German.

University High School has a partnership with the University of Arizona to provide concurrent enrollment in an engineering course.

The school shares a campus with Rincon High School, and University High School students have access to the classes offered by Rincon High School in addition to the classes at University High School. The schools share most of their clubs, except the University High School chess team, Science Olympiad, Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial and a handful of other clubs. Students compete in regional, state, and national academic competitions.

The school bases admissions on qualifying scores on the Cognitive Abilities entrance exam and grade point average for the two semesters prior to enrollment.

Stanton College Preparatory School

Jacksonville, Florida

Stanton College Preparatory School, a magnet school, emphasizes teaching cultural understanding and responsible citizenship. The school offers Honors, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. Stanton College Preparatory School provides all the core courses at either the Honors or Advanced Placement level. 99 percent of students participate in the IB program with a completion rate of 100 percent.

Students can obtain college credit during their time at Stanton College Preparatory School through partnerships with two local universities: The University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville.

The school has more than 50 clubs and organizations including honor societies, special interest groups, academic teams, service clubs, and music.

The U.S. Department of Education recognized Stanton College Preparatory School as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

International Academy

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

International Academy devotes its curriculum to International Baccalaureate studies. Due to a school mandate, students attend all IB courses and exams. Students can obtain up to a year of college credit before they attend college. The academy provides a blend of rigorous academic standards and practical, career-related learning.

The curriculum focuses on eight main subjects: English, the arts, a second language, humanities, science, education, technology, and mathematics. The school also offers Honors classes in almost every course as part of its Middle Years Program.

International Academy is a large school with three campuses: the Okma Campus, the East Campus, and the West Campus.

International Academy mandates students complete 150 hours of community service or co-curricular activities in order to graduate. Some of the co-curricular clubs available include chess, dance, film, and robotics.

International Academy selects students for admission through a lottery.

Downingtown STEM Academy

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Downingtown STEM Academy is a top rated, public, magnet school located in Downingtown, PA. The school is an International Baccalaureate World School offering every student the opportunity to earn an IB Diploma. The curriculum offers Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Pathways. Students are engaged in rigorous, challenging academic work that requires a mindset of growth and effort. 99 percent of students participate in the IB program and the same percentage complete.

A minimum of 75 percent of a student’s credit requirement in each category must come from traditional means of credit acquisition but the grades are not calculated into a student’s GPA with the exception of the Dual Enrollment courses.

A wide variety of clubs are offered in addition to those offered in the student’s home school within the school district. Athletic opportunities are offered at the home schools as well.

Admission requirements include prerequisite courses, a written essay, teacher recommendation, and an interview.

Staten Island Technical High School

Staten Island, New York

Staten Island Technical High School is part of a group of schools with Specialized High School status from the NYC Department of Education. These schools serve the needs of gifted New York City students. Although the school emphasizes engineering and technology, the arts have a strong presence at this high school. Many of the students participate in band and the high school offers drama classes.The school is known for combining the rigors of a specialized school with a friendly atmosphere.

The high school provides a challenging college preparatory curriculum that emphasizes mathematics, science, engineering, computers, and the humanities. The high school also emphasizes health, fitness, and the performing arts. Students have access to science, engineering, and computer laboratories. The high school teaches all the courses at the Honors level. Every student takes introductory courses in robotics, TV/movie production, research and technical writing, and electronics. Students also study computer-aided design (CAD).

Advanced Placement classes at Staten Island Technical High School include a wide variety of subjects such as chemistry, Russian language and studio art.

The school has a 100 percent student AP participation rate with 94 percent of students passing. Staten Island Technical High School also offers an Early College Initiative and a College Dual-Enrollment program.

Students with exceptional performances in the sciences at Staten Island Technical High School can join the school’s Science Engineering Research Program.

Students have a variety of career training and learning exploration opportunities such as job shadowing, work site visits, internships, and visits from guest speakers to help them discover their career and life goals.

Staten Island Technical High School reports that 100 percent of its students are accepted to a college or university.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 31 percent of the Staten Island Technical High School student body.

Staten Island Technical High School is highly competitive. Students gain admission through the challenging Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Brooklyn Latin School

Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Latin School provides a classical liberal arts curriculum. Students obtain a strong background in science, math, history, English, Latin, a modern world language, and art history. The school is part of a group of schools with Specialized High School status from the NYC Department of Education. The schools serve the needs of gifted NYC Students. Brooklyn Latin High School provides the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and the opportunity for students to earn college credits via dual enrollment courses.

All the classes have an emphasis on structured writing and public speaking.

Students participate in Socratic seminars and learn through communicating based on formal rules of discussion. Students also divide learning tasks then teach each other in small groups. Every student takes four years of Latin and laboratory sciences. Every student also creates an extended research essay.

The school expects students to try to make a better world through volunteering in their communities and helping the less fortunate.

Brooklyn Latin School offers a variety of clubs and activities.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 67 percent of the student body at Brooklyn Latin School.

Students gain admission through the challenging Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Bergen County Academies

Hackensack, New Jersey

Bergen County Academies (BCA), is a free, public, magnet high school of choice for Bergen County residents. The school offers seven specialized programs in the areas of mathematics and science, engineering and design, medical science, business and finance, culinary arts and hospitality administration, visual and performing arts, and technology and computer science.

The school is tuition-free and serves ninth through twelfth grade students.

Bergen County Academies’ strengths are its academics, extracurricular activities, and notable faculty, many of whom hold doctorates in their respective fields. While offering some 16 AP courses, BCA does not focus on them. Led by a faculty of which 20 percent hold Ph.D.s, students at BCA enjoy courses that often surpass AP courses in technical rigor and creativity. An early start to earning college credits is available through dual enrollment courses.

Admission to Bergen County Academies is highly competitive, as the school typically accepts about 270 of the 1,600+ applicants every year through a process that includes letters of recommendation, exams, and interviews. The school has a 16 percent acceptance rate.

BCA is a Blue Ribbon School; a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology; admitted to the Coalition of Essential Schools; home to five Intel Science Talent Search finalists in the past five years; and a Model School in the Arts as named by the New Jersey Department of Education.

Academic Magnet High School

North Charleston, South Carolina

Academic Magnet High School serves academically-gifted and motivated students. The high school encourages students to cultivate a sense of global responsibility, to contribute to members of the community, and to cultivate and uphold respect for cultural diversity.

All courses offered at Academic Magnet High School are at the Honors or Advanced Placement level with 97 percent of students taking the AP exam and 99 percent of those passing. Students also have opportunities for publication in professional and academic journals.

Alongside the rigorous academic requirements, students must also complete 90 hours of community service, take and pass at least four Advanced Placement courses while attending high school, complete a summer reading list, and complete a senior thesis (a year-long independent research project). Even with these intense requirements, 95 percent of all students at Academic Magnet High School graduate.

Academic Magnet High School boasts a large variety of sports teams and over 50 student clubs including chess, debate, robotics, and physics.

The high school selects students through rigorous criteria, including a written essay, middle school grades, test scores, and teacher recommendations.

Townsend Harris High School

Flushing, New York

Townsend Harris High School is a public magnet high school for the humanities in the borough of Queens in New York City. The school strives to promote learning and an awareness of beauty. Students are exposed to multiple perspectives in order to foster appreciation of all points of view. Encouraging the students to strive for excellence and to develop a commitment to serving the community are an integral part of the school’s mission.

Townsend Harris High School boasts a rigorous curriculum that includes a majority of Advanced Placement courses. Ninety seven percent of students take the AP exam and 99 percent of those students pass. In addition, Townsend Harris students have the opportunity to earn college credits while taking high school courses for dual credit.

Students may also participate in Queens College language courses with approval of the department supervisor.

Enrollment at Townsend Harris High School is 78 percent minority students and 55 percent economically disadvantaged students.

Clubs and activities are numerous and are mainly centered on academics and community service.

Students applying for Townsend Harris High School must have a minimum overall average of 90 percent, excellent standardized test scores, and excellent attendance and punctuality.

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology

Lawrenceville, Georgia

The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology emphasizes project-based STEM education. The school has a focus on technology. The campus includes specially-equipped classrooms, digital media production facilities for sound and video, science labs, and large project spaces for engineering, robotics, art, and design.

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology has a 100 percent AP participation rate and 96 percent pass rate for AP exams. Some of the offerings include chemistry, physics, engineering and language arts. Opportunities for dual enrollment programs for earning early college credits are also available to qualified students.

Within 12 months of graduation, 70 percent of students enroll in college.

The school has a wide variety of student clubs to choose from, including architecture, debate, robotics, and Science Olympiad.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 36 percent of the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology student body.

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology is a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology uses a lottery for admissions. Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements.

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School

Chicago, Illinois

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, a selective-enrollment magnet school, focuses its curriculum on Honors and Advanced Placement courses in science, math, humanities, language, and other subjects.

The high school also offers an extensive variety of foreign languages, including French, Japanese, Chinese, Latin, and Spanish. Students can participate in global exchange and study programs in countries such as China, France, Brazil and South Africa. As the norm, students take four years of a World Language. Students can participate in videoconferencing with one of the many sister schools located throughout the world. Hundreds of students participate in global exchange programs and international studies.

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School offers competitive sports programs and a variety of school clubs, including astronomy, chess, debate, and photography.

The school has a strong commitment to service and community engagement.

The Seminar program gives students the opportunity to enjoy seminars on topics such as horseback riding, pilates, bridge building, math modeling, Judo, exploring Harry Potter, beginning acoustic guitar, and much more.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 31 percent of the student body at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School.

During the 12 months following graduation, 85 percent of students enroll in a college or university; within 16 months, 88 percent have enrolled.

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School is a National Blue Ribbon Award school and an Intel School of Distinction.

Bronx High School of Science

Bronx, New York

Bronx High School of Science is part of a group of schools with Specialized High School status from the NYC Department of Education. The schools serve the needs of gifted New York City Students. This selective public high school emphasizes a college preparatory curriculum with courses in foreign language, fine arts, math, English, social studies, and science. The school teaches eight foreign languages. Required classes include drama, health, and visual arts.

In addition to the fast-paced science and math curriculum offered by the Bronx High School of Science, every student takes a writing seminar and a research literacy course in the ninth grade. While the school is known for its math and science focus, the high school also gives a priority to social sciences and the humanities. Many of the classes include hands-on learning. Students perform independent research in social, physical, and biological sciences.

The Big Siblings program pairs four or five seniors with every freshman homeroom class.

Students can choose from more than two dozen Advanced Placement courses; 91 percent of its students participate in AP courses. The high school offers several post-AP courses as well, such as multivariable calculus, genetics, and organic chemistry. Qualified students may also participate in dual enrollment courses.

Bronx High School of Science has a nationally-renowned speech and debate team. Students can choose from a host of extracurricular activities including debate, sports teams, and robotics. The high school has more than 70 clubs.

Many of the faculty members are alumni of Bronx High School of Science and hold Ph.D.s in their fields.

The high school has a tradition of training scientists as well as business executives, authors, and academic leaders. The school boasts eight Nobel laureates. The alumni includes eight winners of the National Medal of Science and six Pulitzer Prize winners.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 44 percent of the Bronx High School of Science student body.

Bronx High School of Science is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

The high school bases admission on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.

Bergen County Technical High School – Teterboro

Teterboro, New Jersey

Bergen County Technical High School-Teterboro provides students the opportunity to take Advanced Placement classes. 97 percent of the students take AP classes. Students can have a technical major and fulfill college preparatory classes. The high school provides a wide array of electives.

Students are also afforded the opportunity to take a number of college courses off-site at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Bergen Community College prior to graduating high school.

The high school provides a wide variety of clubs and extracurricular activities. Students participate in the SkillsUSA competition every year. Students have opportunities to participate in traditional fall, winter, and spring sports.

Bergen County Technical High School-Teterboro is a National Blue Ribbon school as well as a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and the Technology and the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Suncoast Community High School

Riviera Beach, Florida

Suncoast Community High School, a public college-preparatory high school, offers four magnet programs: Innovative Interactive Technology; Computer Science; International Baccalaureate (IB); and Math, Science, and Engineering.

The school offers a host of AP and IB courses. 100 percent of its students enroll in AP courses, while 52 percent participate in IB courses. Suncoast Community High School allows students to pursue three types of diplomas: standard, IB, or AP International.

Students can complete an executive internship to gain real-world experience. Through its software and hardware programs, students can earn industry certification, giving them a leg up at graduation.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 27 percent of the student body.

With more than 80 organizations and clubs and 44 athletic teams, students have myriad opportunities to get involved at Suncoast Community High School.

The high school mainly bases admissions on test scores, recommendations, and grades. The school also automatically admits students who complete the IB Middle Years Program at a local middle school.

Stuyvesant High School

New York, New York

Stuyvesant High School is part of a group of schools which received Specialized High School status from the NYC Department of Education. The schools serve the needs of gifted New York City Students. The high school focuses its educational program on math, science, and technology, but it has a variety of other offerings, including criminal law and journalism. The high school has a comprehensive humanities program. Students take three years of a single foreign language. Students can take Advanced Placement coursework.

The high school has five bands, a symphony orchestra, and a jazz combo. The school also puts on many theatrical productions. Stuyvesant High School provides a variety of sports teams, a robotics team, academic teams, and numerous clubs.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 43 percent of the student body at Stuyvesant High School. Minority enrollment is reported as 81 percent of students.

Four Stuyvesant High School alumni have received the Nobel Prize.

Students gain admission through the challenging Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School

Jersey City, New Jersey

Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School offers curriculum through a variety of AP and Honors level courses. 100 percent of its students enroll in AP courses. The high school offers nearly two dozen AP courses. Opportunities to earn early college credits during high school are an option for qualified students.

Beyond traditional courses, the high school requires students to complete 50 hours of community service.

After receiving their diplomas, 89 percent of students enroll in a two- or four-year college within 16 months.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School offers extracurricular activities such as an academic competition team, cross-country, and track and field. The high school also offers an internal visual and performing arts programs.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 47 percent of the student body.

The U.S. Department of Education recognized Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School as a Blue Ribbon School.

The high school bases admission on a variety of factors, including PSAT scores, academic performance during middle school, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities.

Brooklyn Technical High School

Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Technical High School is part of a group of schools with Specialized High School status from the NYC Department of Education. These schools serve the needs of gifted New York City Students. This public high school specializes in technology, science, mathematics, and engineering. Brooklyn Technical High School provides 18 majors. The school’s focus on applied science attracts students who like to design, build, and work with their hands.

Students begin together in two core technology classes: design and drafting as well as digital electronics. These core classes teach students to work together.

Brooklyn Technical features a college-style system of majors, including chemical engineering, media communications, social science research, and mathematics. The school has a notable robotics team. Law majors attend classes in the mock courtroom. The school has an aeronautics lab. They also provide music, dance, and drama electives.

The school offers a wide variety of Advanced Placement courses; 90 percent of its students participate in AP courses and exams.

Brooklyn Technical High School offers more than two dozen JV and varsity sports as well as 100+ organizations, allowing students to achieve a well-rounded high school experience. The theater venue, a multi-tier auditorium has more than 3,000 seats.

Students must complete 50 hours of community service and earn 32 service credits through school teams, clubs and other school-related events.

A robust alumni network actively supports Brooklyn Technical High School. The alumni include two Nobel Prize winners.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 64 percent of the student body at Brooklyn Technical High School.

Brooklyn Technical High School is a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.

Brooklyn Technical High School has a highly selective admissions process. All applicants must complete the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test.

Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School

Nashville, Tennessee

Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School is set up to support academically gifted students in their full development. The school offers more than 25 Advanced Placement courses and teaches all the courses at the AP or Honors level. All students complete pre-calculus and physics. The school also provides advanced study in Latin, German, French, and Spanish.

The school provides seniors an internship program. All students have community service opportunities.

The school has a nationally recognized arts program which includes orchestra, jazz, symphonic band, choir, theater, and visual arts.

Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School has a sports program with teams including basketball, baseball, wrestling and soccer. The school also has a number of extracurricular activities including a variety of clubs.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 21 percent of the student body at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School.

Northside College Preparatory High School

Chicago, Illinois

Northside College Preparatory High School, a magnet school, provides all core courses at the Honors or Advanced Placement level. The foundation of the academic programs includes Global Initiative, Integrated Math Program, Physics First, Colloquium, Constitutional Law, Senior Projects, seven languages, as well as a variety of experiences in literature and the arts. The courses use a block schedule, facilitating in-depth exploration and understanding of various subjects.

Students can also participate in study abroad programs.

This high school offers more than 50 clubs and activities and a full array of athletic teams.

Economically disadvantaged students make up 38 percent of the Northside College Preparatory High School student body.

Northside College Preparatory High School, a selective enrollment school, makes admissions decisions based on factors such as grades, standardized test scores, entrance exam scores, and socioeconomic status.

Mission San Jose High School

Fremont, California

Mission San Jose High School is well-known for the talented and dynamic students who matriculate through the school. These students are aided in their success by a devoted staff and dedicated parents. Mission San Jose (the mission, not the high school) was founded by Spanish Missionaries and today is located on the edge of the ever growing Silicon Valley.

Students at Mission San Jose High are immersed in a challenging traditional curriculum with includes college preparatory, honors, and Advanced Placement courses. Several elective programs are also offered. A subsidiary program involves health and wellness. The program “Challenge Success” is a key factor in addressing the academic and social stress of students.

The AP program recently had 972 students enrolled. 87 percent of students took the AP exam with a 95 percent pass rate. Students passing the AP exam may apply for college credit. Determination of dual credit for exam scores for are based solely on the colleges’ decisions.

Following graduation, 85 percent of students enroll in four-year colleges or universities and nine percent enroll in community colleges.

The student population at Mission San Jose includes a 94 percent minority enrollment.

Methodolgy

Additional Considerations

Types of High School Courses

International Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate (IB), a non-profit educational foundation, created in Switzerland in 1968 for students attending international schools, is available in more than 140 countries including the United States. The organization reports its international education programs develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills required to work, learn and live in a rapidly globalizing world.

International Baccalaureate emphasizes creative and critical thinking. Students select their own subjects and projects. Students have responsibility for their own learning. Teachers act more as mentors or supervisors.

International Baccalaureate emphasizes research and encourages students to learn from other students. The full IB programs require community service and promote students expressing themselves through writing. The programs promotes intercultural understanding and respect.

Some high schools are 100 percent IB, however some high schools provide students the option of joining an IB program; students may take just one IB class or obtain an IB diploma. Students seeking an IB diploma take a full course load of IB classes and meet a group of requirements.

IB tests challenge students to apply what they have learned to new scenarios to test students' ability to react to new information in a limited amount of time. In general, International Baccalaureate uses a global approach, looking at ideas across disciplines. Students perform in-depth studies of subjects. Students often work on individual and group projects. The International Baccalaureate curricula emphasizes asking questions and seeking the answers. The program also encourages students to look at cultural biases existing in competing arguments.

In some school districts students may have to pay for their own IB tests.

Advanced Placement

The Advanced Placement (AP) program provides motivated high school students the opportunity to take college level curricula and examinations in a high school setting. Colleges and universities in the United States may provide placement and course credit to students who receive high scores on the examinations. The College Board, which created the Advanced Placement program, selects college-level educators and AP secondary school teachers in specific fields of study to create college-level course descriptions and examinations. The College Board audits the courses to ensure the courses satisfy the AP Curriculum. Courses meeting the requirements receive the AP designation.

The AP program provides more than 30 courses and exams on a variety of subjects in major areas including English, Arts, History and Social Science, AP Cap-stone, Math and Computer Science, World Languages and Cultures, and Sciences.

The College Board reports more than 90 percent of the colleges and universities in the nation have an AP policy providing credit, placement or both for qualifying AP exam grades. Most colleges require students to obtain a minimum score of three or four to acquire college credit.

Completing AP courses can help students qualify for some scholarships. Completing AP courses may also help students in the colleges admissions process. AP classes on a student’s transcript shows strong academic training and seriousness about education.

According to the College Board, close to 60 percent of U.S. high school student students participate in the AP program. Also, according to the College Board, Students who take AP exams obtain higher grades in colleges than students with similar grades who don’t take AP exams.

Dual Credit

State policies and legislation shape dual enrollment programs, thus the programs can significantly differ from state to state. It depends on the state, but most dual credit programs are limited to high school juniors and seniors who maintain a specific cumulative GPA. Some dual credit programs require students to gain admission to the college in order to participate. In some dual credit programs the program is only a small part of a student’s high school experience, however other dual credit programs comprise most of a student’s junior and senior years of high school.

High school students taking dual credit courses, also known as dual enrollment courses, obtain high school credit and college credit for the completed courses. Dual enrollment courses enhance a student’s transcripts. Dual credit grades typically become part of a student’s permanent college record.

High schools students can complete a year of college via dual credit courses at a much smaller cost compared to taking the classes at a college. Some states provide free dual credit courses. In some cases, students taking dual credit courses, obtain an Associate of Arts degree or an equivalent before they graduate from high school.

High school students should know some colleges may not accept dual credit courses. However, at a minimum, the college sponsoring a dual credit course accepts the course. High school students should talk with an academic advisor to find out if a specific college they’re considering attending accepts their dual credit.

Dual enrollment course locations: High school students take dual enrollment courses at a high school or at a local college. Local colleges may offer dual enrollment courses not available at a local high school. Dual enrollment courses provide high school students the opportunity to see the difference in expectations of college students and the level of difficulty of college courses compared to high school courses. High school students taking the classes at a local college learn about the college campus environment. College courses can also provide students a closer look at their academic interest area. They also learn about the administrative processes of taking college classes.

College instructors and/or college-approved high school teachers teach the dual credit classes. A college in a dual credit program reviews and approves high school teachers to teach college syllabi in their classroom; they teach the same course taught at the college campus. The dual credit courses taught at high schools are just as rigorous as the college campus version of the courses. Typically, the high school students have access to the college’s library resources and other resources.

Students taking a concurrent enrollment course take a college level course at their high school for college and high school credit during the high school day in classes taught by a college-approved high school teacher. The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), a professional organization, serves as a national accrediting body for concurrent enrollment programs.

Advanced Placement versus Dual Credit

Dual credit programs typically provide identical courses to the courses provided to college students, whereas Advanced Placement (AP) courses are typically modified college-level curricula for use in high schools.

AP courses may allow students to skip college entry courses or obtain credit for college level courses through passing the AP examination. High school students obtain high school credit and college credit for completed dual credit courses.

Dual credit course performance is based on a course grade, whereas AP scores are based on a standardized exam.

High school students take AP courses in a high school environment along with other high school students. High school teachers teach the classes. High school students take dual credit courses at a high school taught by high schools teachers or at a local college with a college faculty member teaching the classes. Students can typically receive more support from a teacher in an AP class compared to taking a dual credit class at a college campus.

Students take AP classes for free, except for the exams, however depending on a student’s socioeconomic status, a student may take the exams for free or for a reduced fee. Dual credit courses are substantially less expensive than college courses. Some sates provide dual credit courses for free.

Parents typically can’t get as involved with dual credit courses taken at colleges since colleges typically treat dual credit students as college students and expect to deal with students and not with parents. High schools usually can’t intervene when students taking dual credit classes struggle academically.

Dual credit grades usually become part of a student’s permanent college record, whereas a student’s grade from an AP course dos not have to become part of the permanent college transcript unless a student completes paperwork to claim credit or placement. Students struggling in an AP course can typically move to a basic high school course.

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