Special Report

Best Public High School in Every State

Detailed findings

Across the country, 84% of high school students graduate in four years, 16.2% of students are enrolled in Advanced Placement classes, and the average SAT score is 1060 out of 1600. In some of the nation’s top public schools, virtually all students graduate on time, AP enrollment is well above 70%, and average SAT scores are above 1400.

Nationwide, approximately 92% of public school funding comes from state and local sources. School spending tends to correspond to school quality, and the better the school the higher the spending per pupil. Many of the best schools are located in the wealthiest states. In nine of the 10 states with the most public high schools ranked in the top 1,000, the median annual household income is higher than the national median of $57,617.

States with better high schools also tend to have better educational outcomes. In all 10 states with the most top-1,000 public high schools per student, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is greater than the national bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 31.3%. These states also have higher public school expenditures, they pay public school teachers more on average, and they have larger shares of students who score a 3 out of 5 or higher on AP exams.


To determine the best public high school in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed rankings for all public schools from school and neighborhood data clearinghouse Niche. Data on rank, number of students, student-teacher ratio, graduation rate, average SAT score, average ACT score, and AP enrollment also came from Niche.