How schools are ranked:
- STEP 1 | Students perform better than expected in their state.
We looked at reading and math results for students on each state's proficiency tests and then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, who tend to score lower.
- STEP 2 | Disadvantaged students perform better than state average.
We compared each school's math and reading proficiency rates for disadvantaged students - black, Hispanic and low-income - with the statewide results for these student groups and then selected schools that were performing better than their state averages.
- STEP 3 | Student graduation rates meet or exceed a national standard
We excluded schools from consideration if their graduation rates were lower than 75 percent - a threshold that is higher than a federal law that requires states to give extra resources to schools below 67 percent.
- STEP 4 | Students are prepared for college-level coursework.
We calculated a College Readiness Index, which is based on the school's AP participation rate and how well the students did on those tests. Tiebeakers were used to determine ranks of schools that achieved the same College Readiness Index.