BestHighSchools

Maryland eclipsed other U.S. states’ percentage of high-performing public high schools in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking, the publication announced this week.

This is the second year in a row the Free State has led the nation in the best high schools ranking. The publication evaluated data on more than 21,500 public high schools, awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to the institutions based on how well students are prepared for college.

Almost 30 percent of Maryland’s 232 eligible schools earned gold and silver medals from U.S. News & World Report this year. Connecticut and California came in second and third with 24.9 percent and 23.8, respectively.

The scores were based on measures such as the level of student participation and success in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests and statewide examinations. Graduation rates also weighed heavily in the rankings methodology. For example, the 6,218 high schools to be singled out by the publication achieve graduation rates that are 15 percent higher, on average, than other schools, the magazine reported.

“A high school education is imperative for success in both college and a career, and a school’s graduation rate is a key indicator of whether students are being effectively prepared for both paths,” Anita Narayan, managing editor of education at U.S. News & World Report, said in a statement. “The 2016 Best High Schools rankings provide students and parents with data-driven information on public schools to help them make better-informed decisions about their education.”

The top three high schools in the state—Walt Whitman (Bethesda), Winston Churchill (Potomac) and Poolesville—and 50 percent of Maryland’s top 10 are all in Montgomery County. The state’s highest-ranked Baltimore City public school was the Baltimore School for the Arts, which came in 44th in the state rankings.