All 10 of the highest ranked schools were charter or magnet schools. In order to gain admission into a charter school, students must enlist in a lottery and in order to attend a magnet school, students must meet high academic standards.
In order to rank highly on U.S. News' list, schools needed to demonstrate that their black, Hispanic and low-income students performed better than the state average. This is one reason that BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale Arizona topped U.S. News' list of best high schools in the country.
BASIS, a non-profit chain of charter schools located primarily in Arizona, has earned a reputation for creating high-performing schools. It has also been criticized by educators for cherry-picking only the brightest students despite open-enrollment laws. Four other Arizona BASIS charter schools cracked the top 10.
According to the Department of Education, Arizona has the third highest educational spending inequality in the country.
The School for the Talented and Gifted, known as "TAG," in Dallas Texas was the highest ranking school outside of Arizona. TAG boats a 100 percent graduation rate and students receive perfect scores for math and English proficiency. One reason for the high scores is because only highly competent students are admitted.
All of the schools in the top 10 enrolled fewer than 1,000 students, with the exception of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which has a student body of 1,820.
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