A high school can get into the top 20 in the United States by improving key performance indicators, including student test scores and college-readiness performance. Some organizations also weigh the opinions of students in the final rankings.
To get into the top 20, a school must consider the ranking methodology of the ranking organization. U.S. News &; World Report, which works with the American Institutes for Research, measures academic outcomes and examines the ways a high school serves its student body. The school data website Niche uses government, public and private data in combination with students, alumni and parents.
To reach the top in the U.S. News &; World Report ranking, a school's student body as a whole must first exceed the statewide performance average. From those schools, researchers identify the institutions with the highest performance ratings among disadvantaged students. The top 20 schools are those with the highest college readiness scores for the highest percentage of students.
Niche ranks schools based on eight different factors. Half of a school's score depends on grade statistics and opinions. Statistics and opinions for health and safety, student culture and diversity, and teachers' grades each account for 10 percent of the final score. Survey responses also make up 10 percent of the score. Opinions and statistics for the school's resources and facilities contribute five percent, while 2.5 percent each goes to extracurricular activities as well as sports and fitness.