Head of the Class

These 17 Houston-area high schools rank among the best in the state — and the nation

These 17 Houston high schools rank among the best in the state

Teacher and students in a classroom
These Texas high schools get an A-plus. iStock

Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School is no stranger to accolades, and now it can add one more to its trophy shelf. U.S. News & World Report recently named it the No. 2 high school in Texas and the eighth-best in the nation.

It's in good company. Seventeen out of the top 50 schools in the state are in the Houston area, according to the new rankings.

DeBakey High School for Health Professions placed fourth in Texas (No. 18 in the country) while Challenge Early College High School ranks No. 8 in Texas (and No. 69 in the nation).

Other Houston area schools in the top 50 in the state include the following (with national rankings in parentheses):

No. 11 — YES Prep Southwest (No. 82 in the nation)
No. 12 — YES Prep East End (No. 85)
No. 18 — YES Prep Southeast (No. 101)
No. 19 — YES Prep North Central (No. 103)
No. 21 — Victory Early College High School (No. 112)
No. 29 — Eastwood Academy (No. 145)
No. 31 — Harmony School of Science - Houston High (No. 158)
No. 32 — KIPP Generations Collegiate (No. 160)
No. 34 — YES Prep Gulfton (No. 174)
No. 37 — Alief Early College High School (No. 210)
No. 38 — YES Prep North Forest (No. 218)
No. 41 — The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (No. 241)
No. 45 — Clear Horizons Early College High School (No. 268)
No. 46 — KIPP Houston High School (No. 269)

All told, 589 Texas schools are in the 2017 list, which ranked 2,609 schools total. Dallas' School for the Talented and Gifted takes the top spot in Texas and is the fourth-best high school in the nation, while neighboring School of Science and Engineering gets a nod as No. 3 in Texas and No. 9 in the country. Austin's Liberal Arts and Science Academy squeezes into the national list at No. 28, and gets a solid fifth in the Lone Star State.

Four factors went into the news site's rankings. The first is that the students must perform better on proficiency tests than expected in their state, and the second is that disadvantaged students (black, Hispanic, and low-income, according to the study) also exceed their state's averages in math and reading proficiency.

Then the graduation rates must have met or exceeded national standards, with schools possessing a rate of lower than 75 percent being excluded. That's actually a higher threshold than federal law requires — 67 percent — for a school to receive extra resources from its state.

The last step calculated the College Readiness index, which is based on a school's AP participation rate and how well its students did on those tests. If one or more schools received the same CRI score, unspecified tiebreakers were used to determine rankings.

If you're really after the best education in America, then it seems you should move to Arizona. The Grand Canyon State swept the top 10 with five of the highest rankings, including overall No. 1 high school, BASIS Scottsdale.