Gunn and Palo Alto high schools rated better than 99.7 percent of U.S. public high schools in Newsweek Magazine's "America's Top High Schools Rankings" released earlier this week, school district officials have announced.
The 2014 placements are based on 2011-2012 school data gathered by the Westat Inc. research group.
Gunn High School ranked No. 38 and Palo Alto High No. 56 in the nation based on achievement scores and college readiness (the latter a combination of enrollment, graduation and attrition rates, ratio of counselors to students, and weighted AP/IB/SAT/ACT composite scores).
A separate assessment focused specifically on how schools support the academic success and college readiness of low-income students was also conducted. On that scale, Gunn ranked No. 61 and Palo Alto No. 146.
Participation in the Newsweek rating system has been somewhat controversial in Palo Alto over the years. In 2007, the district decided not to provide data to Newsweek at all, citing unhealthy levels of student stress associated with competition. Since then, the two high schools have yo-yo'ed up and down the list, in part due to changing methodologies used by Newsweek. Last year, for example, Gunn came out as No. 583 while Paly was No. 161.
About this year's results, Superintendent Glenn "Max" McGee stated in a press release: "We are proud of this recognition by Newsweek and congratulate the students, families, and staff who work diligently every day to achieve these outstanding results. However, these rankings also inspire us to do more to support our socioeconomically disadvantaged students through implementing effective programs, to recruit and retain high quality teachers, and to help each student reach his or her full potential."
In addition to Paly and Gunn, local area high schools also ranked in the top 500: Leland High School in San Jose, 54; Los Altos High School, 71; Mountain View High School, 189; Homestead High School in Cupertino, 403; Cupertino High School, 491.
More information regarding this year's methodology is posted here.