Numerous public schools in Orange County made their way onto the U.S. News & World Report’s yearly breakdown of the nation’s best high schools, which examined data from more than 25,000 campuses.
Oxford Academy in the Anaheim Union High School District was highest on the list locally, ranking No. 1 in California and No. 9 nationally. The digital media outlet noted that Oxford offers “an intensive honors curriculum that requires students to take a minimum of four Advanced Placement courses to graduate.” Oxford freshmen and sophomores can choose from four career pathways to supplement their core courses, including biomedical science, engineering, business/entrepreneurship, and software systems and development.
Overall, nine campuses in Orange County placed within California’s top 100 and 17 local schools placed in the top 1,000 nationally.
They include Troy High School in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. Troy was the second-highest-ranked school in Orange County, coming in at No. 28 in California and No. 204 in the national rankings. Northwood High School in the Irvine Unified School District was third in the county. It ranked No. 31 in California and No. 216 nationally.
University High School from Irvine Unified closely followed, ranking No. 35 in California and No. 255 nationally. Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Magnolia Science Academy Santa Ana, Irvine High School and the Garden Grove Unified School District’s La Quinta High School were also listed within the top 2 percent.
The No. 1 spot in the nation was claimed by The Early College at Guilford, located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The school provides high school students with the chance to earn dual college credits from Guilford College, a private liberal arts institution, enabling them to graduate with two years’ worth of credit.
Methodology based on six factors
While various news outlets have made an effort to rank school programs over the years, U.S. News is perhaps the most widely recognized and consistent, publishing its rankings annually.
Coordinating with North Carolina-based RTI International, a global nonprofit social science research firm, U.S. News examined indicators in six areas: college readiness, state assessment proficiency, state assessment performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates.
“College readiness” measured participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. “Underserved student performance” focused on students who are Black, Hispanic or from low-income households.