Newsweek magazine has published its annual list of the top public high schools in the U.S., and this year’s version features no fewer than a dozen Orange County schools.
From more than 20,000 public high schools across the country, Newsweek identified 500 of the nation’s best with the help of a research firm called Westat. You can read about the methodology they used here and here, or we can just tell you they relied on a two-step identification and ranking process that factored in a bunch of indicators, including standardized tests; counselor staffing; college acceptance and enrollment; SAT and ACT participation and performance; Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) participation and performance; and dual enrollments.
When all the numbers were crunched, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. took the No. 1 spot with perfect graduation and college readiness rates and an average SAT score of 2182. The highest ranking Orange County high school was Irvine’s Northwood High, which came in at No. 25 with a graduation rate of 99.5 percent and an average SAT score of 1895. (Irvine Unified actually had three campuses on the list, as did Capistrano Unified.)
Here are the 12 OC high schools that made the cut:
- Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District (25)
- University High School, Irvine Unified School District (57)
- Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District (69)
- Corona del Mar High School, Newport-Mesa Unified School District (100)
- Yorba Linda High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (172)
- Aliso Niguel High School, Capistrano Unified School District (252)
- Arnold O. Beckman High School, Tustin Unified School District (295)
- Tesoro High School, Capistrano Unified School District (323)
- Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District (335)
- Huntington Beach High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District (346)
- San Clemente High School, Capistrano Unified School District (403)
- Marina High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District (475)
Other publications, including U.S. News & World Report and The Orange County Register, have also curated lists of top-performing high schools over the years, using their own respective formulas. While no ranking system can tell the full story of what goes on inside a school or classroom, each adds something to the discussion of educational success, and Orange County campuses have been consistently recognized.
“Pretty impressive to have 12 Orange County high schools in the top 500 out of over 20,000 high schools in the United States,” said Dr. Jeff Hittenberger, OCDE’s chief academic officer. “Another way of saying this is that nearly 20 percent of OC public high schools are ranked by Newsweek in the top 2 percent nationwide.”