While about 90% of all elementary and secondary school students in the United States attend public schools, that still leaves 5.7 million students who are enrolled in private schools across the country.
Private schools are subject to less regulation than public schools, and many offer students a more specialized educational experience, including Montessori schools, religious schools, or an all-boys or all-girls school. And like any other good or service, the quality of private schools varies heavily across the country and correlates with factors such as income and home values.
To determine the best private high school in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed rankings for all private schools from the 2021 Best Private High Schools in America list produced by school and neighborhood data clearinghouse Niche. Niche ranks private schools based on average SAT and ACT scores, the rank of the colleges that students are most interested in or go on to attend, college enrollment, culture and diversity, student-teacher ratio, and parent and student surveys. Data on the number of students, average SAT score, and annual tuition also came from Niche. When tuition data was not available from Niche, outside sources were used.
While there is a lack of certainty about whether, after controlling for family income, attending a private school has an effect on overall student success, private school students tend to perform better on standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT as well as on reading and math proficiency tests. Among the schools on this list, with one exception, the average SAT score ranges from 1220 to 1500 out of 1600. For context, the average national SAT score among 2019 high school graduates was 1059.
The nation’s best private schools are concentrated in certain states. California, New York, and Massachusetts alone account for 30 of the 50 top-ranked private high schools. Meanwhile, in Wyoming and Arkansas, the top-ranked private high school ranks outside of the top 600 nationwide. There exists a similar concentration among the nation’s public schools. This is a list of the best public high school in every state.