Detailed Findings & Methodology
Private schools tend to offer smaller classes. While the average public school nationwide has 16 students per teacher, the pupil-per-teacher ratio at private schools is 12. In 41 states, the top private high school has fewer than 10 students per teacher.
Students at private schools tend to outperform public school students on standardized tests. The average SAT score among private school seniors was 1077 out of 1600 in 2014, roughly 100 points higher than that of the average public school student. Students scored an average of at least 1300 on the SAT in the top private high school in 40 states.
Private high schools often tend to have a higher quality of education than public schools overall. In Niche’s ranking of all high schools nationwide, only two of the top 25 high schools in America are public.
Likely the biggest factor contributing to the differences in educational quality between private and public schools, as well as the disparity in quality among private schools, is funding.
Private schools are largely funded by student tuition and endowments. The average tuition at a private high school is $11,000. Many of the best private high schools charge tuition greater than three times the national average and more than most private universities. Many students come from out of state, and and the student bodies of the best private schools represent multiple countries.
Despite their separate funding sources, the quality of a state’s private schools often mirrors that of its public school system. According to Niche’s analysis, public schools in the Northeast and and West Coast are among the best in the country, while public schools in the South and Midwest tend to not rank as among the best in the country.
Similarly, while the top private high schools in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California, and New York are among the top 10 private high schools in the country, states in South and Midwest offer less highly-ranked educational opportunities. The top private high schools in Montana and Alaska, for example, fall outside of the top 2,000 private schools nationwide.
To determine the best private high school in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed rankings for all private schools from school and neighborhood data clearinghouse Niche. Data on number of students, average SAT and ACT score, and annual tuition also came from Niche. When tuition data was not available from Niche, outside sources were used.