We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are School Rankings?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated Jan 31, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

School rankings are ratings of schools based on a variety of criteria and undertaken for the purpose of allowing people, particularly parents, to evaluate, compare, and contrast schools. Because these ratings are incorporated by people in deciding where to live, real estate agents also use them. Rankings can be national, or at the state, district, or school level.

One might begin to look for school rankings by going to the United States Department of Education. This department does not rank schools itself, but recommends the Standard & Poors website called SchoolMatters.

School rankings at SchoolMatters are only for public schools. They give an overview with contact information, a map, and general school information such as enrollment, student/teacher ratio, and ethnic make-up, with space for parent ratings and reviews and photos to be added by users. Other areas covered are test scores, a classroom profile, college prep information, the district’s financial information, and community demographics. Also available are a link to the school’s website, the ability to e-mail a parent from the school if any have volunteered, and the ability to compare up to three schools within a state.

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) offers information on a state-by-state basis. Its information is based on four areas: student characteristics, school and district characteristics, racial/ethnic information, and performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics, reading, science, and writing.

Two national magazines have high profile school rankings. Newsweek’s Top High Schools has rankings for public schools based on the ratio of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and/or Cambridge tests administered to all students in the school to the number of graduating seniors. The Newsweek site lists the top 1300 schools in the country, with additional data on the percentage of students in the school who are receiving Federally subsidized lunch, and the proportion of graduating seniors who passed at least one AP or IB exam.

U.S. News & World Report provides school rankings for the institutions it claims are America’s 100 best public high schools. The areas examined include students’ performance on state tests, the success of the school’s disadvantaged students, and the college level coursework offered.

It’s important, however, to keep in mind that ratings can be wrong or misleading. In November, 2007, when U.S. News & World Report gave school rankings for the top 100 schools, they got the math wrong. A school listed as number 5 was actually in the top 500 of the over 18,000 high school rated, but not among the top ten. Of course there was a retraction as soon as the error was noted, but it’s a reminder not to treat rankings as infallible.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.