Top-Performing Public High Schools Methodolgy

To come up with a ranking of the top-performing city and suburban public high schools in the eight-county Philadelphia region, we first collected the latest available data from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey departments of education and the National Center for Education Statistics in the following areas:

  • Enrollment for grades 9–12
  • Four-year graduation rate
  • Percentage of graduates attending a 2- or 4-year college
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations on state assessment tests in language and math
  • SAT verbal and math scores

We omitted highly specialized schools and schools reporting insufficient information, then separated the data into two subgroups: schools in Philadelphia County only and schools in all the surrounding counties. Each group was analyzed independently by statistician George Recck, director of the Math Resource Center at Babson College in Massachusetts. Once the data was collected and regularized, we compared each high school’s data points to the overall average for the subgroup. We then applied a percentage weight to the standardized value for each high school to create an aggregate “score” for each district. The high schools were then ranked based on that statistical score.

Notes for selected categories:

  • Student-teacher ratio: We considered it more desirable to have a lower ratio than a higher one.
  • State assessments: We analyzed the data for New Jersey high schools and Pennsylvania high schools independently, as they use different standardized tests.