By Alyssa Adams


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eight of the top 10 high schools in Pennsylvania are located in the Greater Philadelphia Area, according to a U.S. News and World Report. The report ranked the best public high schools in the United States nation and statewide.

This is the 11th edition of the best high school rankings and the first year they are using a new methodology that ranks the school based on six key factors.

“The new methodology looks at six specific factors that are graded differently, these include college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rate,” Managing Editor of Education Anita Narayan said.

The schools with the highest rank are those whose students excelled on state tests and excelled beyond expectations. Those students participated in and passed college level AP or IB exams and also graduated in high proportions.

“Pennsylvania schools and those in the Philly area did extremely well. The top eight schools in Pennsylvania are all in the Greater Philadelphia Area,” Narayan said.

In the top 30 high schools across the country, Julia R. Masterman Secondary School in Philadelphia ranked No. 22 and Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy in Downingtown ranked No. 29.

“It was absolutely a validation of their hard work. We are proud of the teachers, staff and leadership at that school,” Shawn Bird, chief of school’s with the Philadelphia School District, said.

Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy Principal Art Campbell says they focus on preparing their students for the work force.

“We have a big focus on work force development because preparing students with the skills necessary to be productive and have a successful career after college,” Principal Art Campbell said. “[For example,] how they interact with our business partners. And we’re very fortunate to be here in Southeastern Pennsylvania with a lot of resources.”

The Charter School of Wilmington in Delaware fell just shy of the top 30, ranking No. 31.

U.S. News and World Report decided to change the way they graded the high schools this year to make the results more understandable for parents researching the schools and to expand the number of public schools included in the ranking.

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“There are a couple of reasons why we changed the methodology this year,” Narayan said. “The first reason is we really wanted to make the rankings easier to understand for families looking into public high schools in their area, that’s really who we do the rankings for, the parents. The second reason I would say, we really wanted to expand the rankings so that all eligible public high schools are ranked. In the past we only really ranked about 14% of eligible high schools.”

Narayan says the previous way they ranked the schools was a “much more complicated” four-step process that ultimately judged schools based on college readiness.

“It was a much more complicated four-step process, whereas now we have these six factors [that are] weighted in specific way,” Narayan explained.

Since this is the first year the company ranked the schools with the new methodology, they are avoiding comparing results from previous year’s lists.

“Because this year we numerically ranked so many more public high schools across the country and have revamped the methodology, we actually feel it’s not fair, not accurate to compare against prior years,” Narayan said.

While it is unclear how Pennsylvania and New Jersey high schools ranked compared to previous years, they did rank in the top 20 when comparing which states had the largest portions of its high schools in the top 25% of the rankings. New Jersey ranked 5th overall and Pennsylvania came in 17th.

Top 5 Pennsylvania Public High Schools:
1. Julia R. Masterman Secondary School
2. Downingtown STEM Academy
3. Radnor High School
4. Central High School
5. Conestoga High School

Top 5 New Jersey Public High Schools:
1. High Technology High School
2. Bergen County Academies
3. Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technology
4. Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School
5. Biotechnology High School

Top 5 Delaware Public High Schools:
1. Charter School of Wilmington
2. Cab Calloway School of the Arts
3. Conrad Schools of Science
4. Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences
5. Mount Pleasant High School

For more detailed information on the report, including the top STEM, charter, and magnet high schools, view the full report here.

(CBS3 Reporter Natasha Brown contributed to this report.)