The annual study examines 22,000 public high school in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Performance was based on whether students at each school were performing better than expected of other students in the state, whether historically underserved students (black, Hispanic and low-income) performed better than expected of the same populations state-wide, the school's graduation rate and college-readiness performance.
The top ranking high school in the state is Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro. Five of the top-10 public schools in the Bay State are open-enrollment, while three require students to test-in, and two operate as charter schools that fill seats through a system of applications and lotteries. Payton ranked as the nation's 52nd best high school, according to U.S. News.
How PMSA performed on U.S. News's scorecard for measuring the nation's best high schools.
The Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough and Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden round out the top three. Instead, she said, the school takes a "holistic" approach, with a classical education style, that has the added benefit of preparing students for standardized assessments.
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Ocean Springs College Readiness Index score of 33.3 was tops in MS and far exceeded that of all other Jackson County schools, with Pascagoula High School the next highest at 18.8. AMES is an early college charter on the campus of Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City.
U.S. News analyzed data from more than 20,500 schools across the county to determine the rankings.
"With this in mind, we define a "best" high school as one that best serves all of its students", he said in a statement. Tiebreakers determined the ranks of schools achieving the same CRI.
"It's nice being a small school so that we can know them individually and what their needs are", Ellis said.