www.usatoday.com

By Michael B. Sauter and Evan Comen

Among all public services in this country, few are as uneven in quality as the American public education system.

While schools must follow certain guidelines and are held to public standards, they are largely funded by property taxes — which means their budgets largely depend on neighborhood wealth rather than per student or by need.

A review of data on public high schools in the United States shows a substantial diversity in quality and educational outcomes between school districts.

Across the country, just over 80% of students graduate, 4.9% of students enroll in Advanced Placement classes, and the average SAT score is a little over 1000 out of 1600. In some of the nation’s top public schools, virtually all students graduate, AP enrollment is well above 70%, and average SAT scores are above 1400.

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While the nation’s top public high schools are primarily concentrated in a few of the most populous states, including Illinois, New York, California, and Texas, every state in the country has at least one high school that exceeds national averages, and whose students are better set up for success. Based on publicly-available data on factors such as standardized test scores, student-teacher ratios, graduation rates, AP enrollment, and more, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the top public high school in each state.

To determine the best public high school in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed rankings for all public schools from school and neighborhood data clearinghouse Niche. Data on rank, number of students, student-teacher ratio, average graduation rate, average SAT score, average ACT score, and AP enrollment also came from Niche. Data on the ratio of students to teachers by state came from the National Center for Education Statistics. Graduation rates by state also came from the NCED and are for the 2012-13 school year. Data on AP enrollment by state for the 2011-12 school year came from Civil Rights Data Collection.

Alabama

  • High school: Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School
  • Location: Montgomery
  • Students: 488
  • Student-teacher ratio: 14:1
  • Average SAT: 1340

Alaska

  • High school: West High School
  • Location: Anchorage
  • Students: 1,899
  • Student-teacher ratio: 22:1
  • Average SAT: 1230

Arizona

  • High school: BASIS Scottsdale
  • Location: Scottsdale
  • Students: 754
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: 1470

Arkansas

  • High school: Haas Hall Academy
  • Location: Fayetteville
  • Students: 320
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
  • Average SAT: 1360

California

  • High school: Henry M. Gunn High School
  • Location: Palo Alto
  • Students: 1,897
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1400

Colorado

  • High school: Cherry Creek High School
  • Location: Greenwood Village
  • Students: 3,506
  • Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
  • Average SAT: 1350

Connecticut

  • High school: New Canaan High School
  • Location: New Canaan
  • Students: 1,250
  • Student-teacher ratio: 12:1
  • Average SAT: 1280

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Delaware

  • High school: Charter School of Wilmington
  • Location: Wilmington
  • Students: 972
  • Student-teacher ratio: 4:1
  • Average SAT: 1330

Florida

  • High school: Pine View School
  • Location: Osprey
  • Students: 2,186
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1360

Georgia

  • High school: Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology
  • Location: Lawrenceville
  • Students: 976
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1340

Hawaii

  • High school: Education Laboratory Public Charter School
  • Location: Honolulu
  • Students: 444
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: 1190

Idaho

  • High school: Boise Senior High School
  • Location: Boise
  • Students: 1,473
  • Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
  • Average SAT: 1240

Illinois

  • High school: Walter Payton College Prep
  • Location: Chicago
  • Students: 899
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1400

Indiana

  • High school: Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics & Humanities
  • Location: Muncie
  • Students: 307
  • Student-teacher ratio: 9:1
  • Average SAT: 1290

Iowa

  • High school: Ames High School
  • Location: Ames
  • Students: 1,271
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
  • Average SAT: 1420

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Kansas

  • High school: Blue Valley High School
  • Location: Overland Park
  • Students: 1,511
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1420

Kentucky

  • High school: DuPont Manual High School
  • Location: Louisville
  • Students: 1,896
  • Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
  • Average SAT: 1400

Louisiana

  • High school: Benjamin Franklin High School
  • Location: New Orleans
  • Students: 894
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1350

Maine

  • High school: Maine School of Science & Mathematics
  • Location: Limestone
  • Students: 139
  • Student-teacher ratio: 7:1
  • Average SAT: 1370

Maryland

  • High school: Poolesville High School
  • Location: Poolesville
  • Students: 1,225
  • Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
  • Average SAT: 1380

Massachusetts

  • High school: Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science
  • Location: Worcester
  • Students: 97
  • Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
  • Average SAT: 1460

Michigan

  • High school: International Academy
  • Location: Bloomfield
  • Students: 1,371
  • Student-teacher ratio: 108:1
  • Average SAT: 1390

Minnesota

  • High school: Wayzata High School
  • Location: Plymouth
  • Students: 3,228
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1420

Mississippi

  • High school: The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science
  • Location: Columbus
  • Students: 245
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: 1350

Missouri

  • High school: Clayton High School
  • Location: Clayton
  • Students: 875
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: 1340

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Montana

  • High school: Bozeman High School
  • Location: Bozeman
  • Students: 1,963
  • Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
  • Average SAT: 1250

Nebraska

  • High school: Millard North High School
  • Location: Omaha
  • Students: 2,521
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1360

Nevada

  • High school: The Davidson Academy of Nevada
  • Location: Reno
  • Students: 160
  • Student-teacher ratio: 8:1
  • Average SAT: 1510

New Hampshire

  • High school: Hanover High School
  • Location: Hanover
  • Students: 718
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: 1330

New Jersey

  • High school: Bergen County Academies
  • Location: Hackensack
  • Students: 1,044
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: 1440

New Mexico

  • High school: Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Students: 369
  • Student-teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Average SAT: 1310

New York

  • High school: Stuyvesant High School
  • Location: New York
  • Students: 3,297
  • Student-teacher ratio: 21:1
  • Average SAT: 1460

North Carolina

  • High school: The Early College at Guilford
  • Location: Greensboro
  • Students: 198
  • Student-teacher ratio: 24:1
  • Average SAT: 1400

North Dakota

  • High school: Central High School
  • Location: Grand Forks
  • Students: 949
  • Student-teacher ratio: 12:1
  • Average SAT: 1330

Ohio

  • High school: Walnut Hills High School
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Students: 2,591
  • Student-teacher ratio: 21:1
  • Average SAT: 1330

Oklahoma

  • High school: Booker T. Washington High School
  • Location: Tulsa
  • Students: 1,329
  • Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
  • Average SAT: 1270

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Oregon

  • High school: Lake Oswego Senior High School
  • Location: Lake Oswego
  • Students: 1,289
  • Student-teacher ratio: 23:1
  • Average SAT: 1280

Pennsylvania

  • High school: Conestoga Senior High School
  • Location: Berwyn
  • Students: 2,051
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
  • Average SAT: 1300

Rhode Island

  • High school: Barrington High School
  • Location: Barrington
  • Students: 1,055
  • Student-teacher ratio: 13:1
  • Average SAT: 1260

South Carolina

  • High school: Academic Magnet High School
  • Location: North Charleston
  • Students: 644
  • Student-teacher ratio: 15:1
  • Average SAT: 1370

South Dakota

  • High school: Lincoln High School
  • Location: Sioux Falls
  • Students: 1,924
  • Student-teacher ratio: 18:1
  • Average SAT: 1310

Tennessee

  • High school: Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School
  • Location: Nashville
  • Students: 915
  • Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
  • Average SAT: 1310

Texas

  • High school: Liberal Arts & Science Academy
  • Location: Austin
  • Students: 1,002
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
  • Average SAT: 1390

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Utah

  • High school: Park City High School
  • Location: Park City
  • Students: 1,131
  • Student-teacher ratio: 19:1
  • Average SAT: 1240

Vermont

  • High school: South Burlington High School
  • Location: South Burlington
  • Students: 901
  • Student-teacher ratio: 12:1
  • Average SAT: 1230

Virginia

  • High school: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology
  • Location: Alexandria
  • Students: 1,820
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
  • Average SAT: 1500

Washington

  • High school: Tesla STEM High School
  • Location: Redmond
  • Students: 557
  • Student-teacher ratio: 24:1
  • Average SAT: 1410

West Virginia

  • High school: George Washington High School
  • Location: Charleston
  • Students: 1,100
  • Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
  • Average SAT: 1250

Wisconsin

  • High school: Whitefish Bay High School
  • Location: Whitefish Bay
  • Students: 985
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1
  • Average SAT: 1360

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Wyoming

  • High school: Big Horn High School
  • Location: Sheridan
  • Students: 149
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1
  • Average SAT: N/A

24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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