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Georgia’s Top High Schools

Photo Credit: Hyosub Shin

With Georgia’s long history of providing quality education to students of all ages, the Peach State offers a wide variety of high-performing public and private institutions that appeal to all types of needs.

But which Georgia high school is the best of the best? There are a number of ways to evaluate competing schools, from SAT scores to graduation rates – and a vast array of surveys and studies that attempt to answer that question.

Perhaps the best known ranking is produced by U.S. News & World Report, which evaluates high schools, colleges and universities in pursuit of the best schools in a variety of venues. Each year,U.S. News teams up with the American Institutes for Research to rank the best high schools in the United States. Criteria included student performance on state-mandated assessments; effectively educating minority and economically disadvantaged students; and participation in Advanced Placement® (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and examinations.

Among the Georgia schools ranked as 20014 U.S. News “Best High Schools,” 17 received national gold medals. Another 34 earned silver medals and 53 drew bronze medals. Nationally, the survey awarded 500 gold, 1,519 silver and 2,688 bronze medals.

Gwinnett SMST Tops State List, Ranks Third in U.S.

The highest rating in Georgia went to Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in the northern Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville. Gwinnett SMST also received the third highest ranking in the United States – the second consecutive year in that position. One of 21 high schools in the Gwinnett County public school system, Gwinnett SMST was also ranked number two among charter schools and 20th overall for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Some 75 percent of the school’s 696 students represent minorities and 30 percent were from economically disadvantaged families. In addition, 100 percent of Gwinnett SMST students took Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and examinations.

Davidson Fine Arts in Augusta ranked second among Georgia high schools and also boast a 100 percent AP participation rate. Gold medal-winner Davidson is one of 10 high schools in the Richmond County school district, located some 145 miles west of Atlanta. The 760-student population includes 68 percent females and 55 percent minorities. Davidson is also in the top 30 magnet schools in the country and in the top 100 of all high schools.

DeKalb School of the Arts in Avondale Estates near Atlanta ranked third in Georgia. The 321-student school is another gold award winner with a 100 percent AP participation rate. The DeKalb County School District arts school also ranked in the top 100 U.S. schools and as #33 among magnet schools.

Fourth place went to Columbus High School in Muscogee County in southwest Georgia. Columbus High has an 87 percent AP participation rank and ranked 125th nationwide.

The five of the other six top high schools in Georgia are located in the metropolitan Atlanta areas. As ranked by U.S. News & World Report, the remaining schools rounding out the Georgia Top Ten are:

- Northview High School in Duluth

- Milton High School, Alpharetta

- Savannah Arts Academy on Georgia’s East Coast, near the Atlantic Ocean

- Johns Creek High School in Johns Creek

- Walton High School, Marietta

- Alpharetta High School, also in Alpharetta.

SAT, ACT Rankings

For 2014, Georgia students scored an average of 1445 on the SAT (originally Scholastic Aptitude Test), compared to the national average of 1447, according to the College Board. {A percent score is 2400 on the SAT test, which evaluates college preparedness among high school students.} Some 77 percent of Georgia seniors took the SAT test for the 2013-2014 school year, which continues to place the state among the highest participation rates in the country.

Not surprisingly, the list of top SAT scoring schools also includes many of the same names as seen on the U.S. News & World Report ranking. Gwinnett SMST was again atop the list with an average score of 1912. Northview High School of Fulton County was second at 1779, while Walton High School of Cobb County ranked third at 1724.

For the other major college preparedness test, the American College Testing (ACT), Georgia led the states in the southeastern United States in 2014. Some 53 percent of students in the state took the ACT. Georgia students had an average composite score of 20.8, slightly below the national average of 21. A perfect score of 36 is achieved by less than one-tenth of one percent of American high schools – an honor earned this year by junior Mackenzie Joy of Sequoyah High School in Canton, located in Cherokee County near Atlanta.

Overall, Georgia ranks eighth among U.S. states in student enrollment and 10th in total number of schools. The state has 2,702 high schools (including 2,068 public schools and 634 private schools) educating more than 470,000 students. While a handful of the best-performing schools rise to the top of the national rankings, Georgia provides a variety of choices for student to earn a quality education that prepares them for the future.

Questions or comments? Please email Michael Fenton at mfenton@atlantapacificgroup.com