Nine of California’s top 20 public high schools are in the Bay Area

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Nine of the 20 best public high schools in California are in the Bay Area, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The online news magazine released its list of 2013 U.S. public high school rankings this week as well as rankings by state.

Pacific Collegiate School, a charter school in Santa Cruz (a city that many consider to be part of the Bay Area), landed the top spot in California and was ranked No. 11 nationally.

“In my opinion, the thing that makes us so great is we have a clear mission,” says Simon Fletcher, the interim principal at Pacific Collegiate. “We’re a college prep school that’s focused on academics. We ask that our students put school first. This is a place that you come to be intellectual, to work hard and to challenge yourself to get better everyday. We also want our students to be world citizens and to think critically about the world and their place in it.”

Pacific Collegiate is in its 14th year and offers grades seventh through 12th. Fletcher says that his school was ranked in the top 3 in California for several years and about five years ago the school was No. 2 in the nation.

Oxford Academy, a public school in Cypress, holds the No. 2 spot in the Golden State and Whitney High School, a public school in Cerritos, was third.

The American Indian Public High School in Oakland was the next Bay Area school on the list, ranking No. 5 in California and No. 38 nationally. San Francisco’s Lowell High School scored the No. 8 spot in California and ranked No. 43 nationally.

The online magazine collected data on over 21,000 public, magnet and charter high schools in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and ranked the best ones. (Nebraska didn’t have sufficient data). U.S. News ranked 501 schools in California (see the top 20 above and the full list here) and a total of 4,805 schools throughout the United States. The national rankings were divided into gold, silver and bronze groups and “California leads the pack with close to 28 percent of the nearly 1,800 eligible schools in the state earning gold and silver medals,” according to U.S. News.

The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas, held onto its distinction as the No. 1 school in the country. BASIS Tucson in Arizona claimed No. 2, climbing up from last year’s No. 6 spot. And Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology was No. 3; the school opened in 2007 and earned its first-ever ranking this year.

To create the 2013 list, researchers looked closely at schools’ reading and math results on state proficiency tests and compared these with the state average to determine whether students were performing better than statistical expectations. They also analyzed scores from disadvantaged students (black, Hispanic and low-income) to see whether they were “performing better than average for similar students in the state.”

Those schools that were considered high level made it to the final stage of analysis and their students were judged on their college readiness. Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data was used “as the benchmark for success.”

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