The top 10 high schools in MN: US News ranking

Oftentimes a ceremony surrounding collegiate athletics, a Minnesota high school held its own signing day to celebrate students headed down another path.

U.S. News & World Report released its yearly "Best High School Rankings" for 2024 last week.

The ranking looked at more than 20,000 public high schools across the United States and relied on factors including college readiness, state assessment proficiency, state assessment performance, performance of underserved students (low-income students or students of color), the number of students who earned qualifying scores for college-level courses and graduation rates.

For Minnesota, things weren't great. The state didn't have a high school that cracked the top 100 public high schools and only 13 among the top 1,000 schools. For comparison, Wisconsin also failed to crack the top 100 and Iowa only had one school in the top 700 and two in the top 1,000.

In the Midwest, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana fared better than Minnesota, with each having schools ranking in the top 10.

The first Minnesota school on the list is the Math and Science Academy in Woodbury at No. 120. There were 19 states that didn't have at least one school inside the top 120: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Several states had multiple schools in the top 50, including Arizona (6), California (6), New York (5), and Texas (6).

Each of Minnesota's top ten schools is in the Twin Cities metro.

The top 10 high schools in Minnesota

  1. Math and Science Academy, 120th overall (Woodbury, Minn.)
  2. Nova Classical Academy Upper School, 179th overall (St. Paul, Minn.)
  3. St. Croix Preparatory Academy, 190th overall (Baytown, Minn.)
  4. Parnassus Prep School-Rhetoric, 262nd overall (Maple Grove, Minn.)
  5. Minnetonka Senior High School, 276th overall (Minnetonka, Minn.)
  6. Edina Senior High School, 302nd overall (Edina, Minn.)
  7. Wayzata High School, 377th overall (Plymouth, Minn.)
  8. Mounds View Senior High School, 576th overall (Arden Hills, Minn.)
  9. Eagle Ridge Academy Charter School, 636th overall (Minnetonka, Minn.)
  10. Lakes International Language Academy-Headwaters, 731st overall (Forest Lake, Minn.)

Criticisms of the U.S. News rankings

Like many rankings, the U.S. News list has faced some scrutiny from critics in education circles.

The general theme: the ranking system is reductive. It's hard to judge the overall quality of a school using a handful of metrics and the U.S. News formula is likely far too simplistic.

In recent years, dozens of colleges have stopped providing data to U.S. News due to perceived flaws with the system. In 2022, Yale Law School, which had routinely claimed the top spot in the ranking of law schools, stopped providing its data. Its dean, Heather Gerken, wrote in a letter: "In recent years, we have invested significant energy and capital in important initiatives that make our law school a better place but perversely work to lower our scores. That’s because the U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed — they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession. We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession. As a result, we will no longer participate."

The National Education Policy Center, a nonprofit organization within the University of Colorado-Boulder, has also criticized the college and high school rankings. While different, it also finds flaws with the way U.S. News compiles its high school rankings.

"By reducing lots of different school quality factors to a single number, all U.S. News rankings oversimplify academic quality," reads a blog post from the center. "Because U.S. News seeks to rank in volume with insufficient investigative resources, its criteria fail to capture the nuances of the complex institutions. And the differences in school rank are not based on genuinely statistically significant discrepancies."