Report card

These are Houston's 4 best high schools in 2021, says U.S. News & World Report

These are Houston's 4 best high schools, says U.S. News & World Report

Graduates tossing their caps
A great school is always worth celebrating. Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

It’s report card time, and four Houston high schools have made the grade, earning top 100 spots in this year’s prestigious U.S. News & World Report rankings of the Best U.S. High Schools. One even merited a special distinction.

Houston’s Carnegie Vanguard High School ranked highest on the list at No. 42. The school is ranked fifth within Texas. The Advanced Placement coursework participation rate there is 100 percent;  total minority enrollment is 77 percent, and 31 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. 

Following close behind is the prestigious DeBakey High School for Health Professions at No. 46 overall. The renowned medical prep school boasts an AP participation rate of 98 percent, total minority enrollment is 88 percent, and 44 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.

Farther down the list is Challenge Early College High School, at No. 89 overall. The AP participation rate here is 100 percent, total minority enrollment is 92 percent, and 76 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. 

At No. 97 overall is Young Women’s College Prep Academy. The AP participation rate here is 100 percent. The total minority enrollment is 97 percent,  and nearly all students — some 96 percent — are economically disadvantaged. 

The 2021 edition is U.S. News’ most comprehensive survey yet, with the consumer advice outlet evaluating more than 17,800 public high schools on how well they serve all of their students, regardless of economic or ethnic background.

To determine rankings, they focus on six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. College readiness specifically measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

Notably, the data used in this edition is from the 2018-2019 academic school year, so it was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Families can use the Best High Schools rankings to see how schools compare at the national, state and local level on factors like graduation rates and college readiness," said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News, in a statement. "The rankings also provide insight into academic performance among underserved groups showing how well schools are supporting these students."

Eight more Texas schools also appear on the national top 100 list:

  • No. 13, School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas 
  • No. 15, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas
  • No. 39, The Science and Engineering Magnet School, Dallas
  • No. 41, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin
  • No. 42, Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston
  • No. 46, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston
  • No. 59Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas
  • No. 68, IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
  • No. 89, Challenge Early College High School, Houston
  • No. 96, Health Careers High School, San Antonio
  • No. 97, Young Women’s College Prep Academy, Houston
  • No. 98, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Austin

Just over the top 100 threshold is Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, coming in at No. 101.

Texas had 1,524 schools ranked this year, of which 42 placed in the top 5 percent, 79 in the top 10 percent, and 157 in the top 25 percent nationally.

Statewide, the top 10 highest ranking schools were:

  1. The School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG), Dallas
  2. Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, Dallas
  3. Science and Engineering Magnet School (SEM), Dallas
  4. Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), Austin
  5. Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston
  6. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Houston
  7. Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas
  8. IDEA Frontier College Preparatory, Brownsville
  9. Challenge Early College High School, Houston
  10. Health Careers High School, San Antonio

So, which school throughout the country ranks as this year’s valedictorian? Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia was deemed the best in the country, as well as among magnet schools. Read the full report and search for schools here.

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