Peninsula High stock

Peninsula High School (File photo by Lisa Jacobs)

Southern California has two of the top 20 high schools in the nation and five of the top 10 in California – including the three best – according to a report released late Monday night, April 20. 

Palos Verdes Peninsula High School was ranked 36th in the statewide rankings, while Palos Verdes High landed at 226th.

The California Academy of Mathematics and Science, a Long Beach Unified School District magnet school in Carson, came in 11th nationally in U.S. News & World Report's 2020 rankings. CAMS, on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus, also ranked as the seventh best magnet school in the U.S.

Cypress' Oxford Academy, a regular high performer in these rankings, was 19th nationally, the same spot it occupied in 2019. 

Whitney High School, in Cerritos, fell from the 14th best high school nationwide in 2019 to 30th this year.

U.S. News & World Report released its 2020 rankings of the best high schools in the nation after reviewing more than 24,000 public institutions across the country. The news magazine – which regularly evaluates K-12 schools, colleges and universities – ultimately ranked more than 17,700 of those schools. 

The magazine determined the rankings by taking a "holistic approach," according to a press release Monday night. It evaluated six areas: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates. U.S. News, according to its methodology, used advanced placement and International Baccalaureate test scores to measure college readiness.

Each school received a score from zero to 100.

“The Best High Schools rankings provide the most comprehensive, data-based information on nearly every public high school in the country,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “Families can use this information to see how their local schools compare on graduation rates and state assessments, as well as academic performance by students who are traditionally underserved – those who are black, Hispanic or from low-income households.”

U.S. News & World Report's 2020 rankings were based on the 2017-18 academic year, so the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shuttering of schools did not play a role in the evaluation, spokeswoman Madeline Smanik said via email recently. 

It remains unclear, however, if the widespread closure of schools across the country, state and region could impact rankings in a couple of years. 

"For future rankings," Smanik said, "we can’t speculate on what the impact will be on the rankings with data we haven’t collected yet."

The magazine, meanwhile, also ranked public high schools by state, metropolitan statistical area and district. U.S. News also ranked the best magnet, charter and STEM schools.

CAMS, Oxford and Whitney occupied the top three spots in the California rankings.

Whitney, which held the top spot statewide in 2019, fell to third. Oxford kept its hold on second. CAMS jumped from fifth in California to take the top spot this year.

The only other Southern California school to rank in the top 100 nationally was Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy, an LAUSD school in Wilmington that ranked seventh on the statewide list. 

But Southern California had 17 schools in the top 50 statewide. California has more than 1.7 million students across 1,323 high schools, according to the latest statewide data

Besides the four schools that ranked in the top 100 nationally, the 13 Southern California schools that made the top 50 statewide are:

  • 10th: Hawthorne Math and Science Academy, in Hawthorne;

  • 20th: Los Angeles Center for Enriched Students, in L.A.;

  • 24th: Downtown Business High, in Los Angeles;

  • 25th: Lennox Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy, in Lennox;

  • 26th: Troy High School, in Fullerton;

  • 32nd: La Canada High School, in La Cañada Flintridge;

  • 34th: Orange County School of the Arts, in Santa Ana;

  • 35th: Animo Leadership High, in Inglewood;

  • 36th: Palos Verdes Peninsula High, in Rolling Hills Estates;

  • 37th: Alliance Ted K. Tajima High School, in Los Angeles;

  • 43rd: Alliance Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science, in Los Angeles;

  • 46th: Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High, in Los Angeles; and

  • 50th: Mira Costa High School, in Manhattan Beach.

State rankings of other area high schools included:

  • 79th:   El Segundo High School
  • 178th: West High, in Torrance
  • 206th: South High, in Torrance
  • 226th: Palos Verdes High School
  • 284th: Redondo Union High School
  • 257th: North High, in Torrance
  • 317th: Torrance High School

California had the second-highest percentage of its schools make the top 25% of the national rankings.

Nearly 41% of the state's schools – or 659 – ranked in the top quarter nationally. Massachusetts saw nearly half of its schools rank in the top 25%.

But California, generally, faces more challenges when educating its students than Massachusetts. 

For one, California's overall student population is 6.5 times greater than that of Massachusetts; The Golden State's high school population, in fact, is more than the total number of K-12 students its East Coast counterpart has. 

California's public schools are also more diverse, with 54% of the state's students Hispanic or Latino, compared to about 22% in Massachusetts; that state's student population is 58% white. 

And 61% of California students are economically disadvantaged, compared to 33% for Massachusetts. 

To see the complete rankings, go to usnews.com.

 

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