Steeped in centuries of tradition, Massachusetts has long been known for its quality of schooling. With over 50 institutes of higher learning in the Boston metropolitan region alone, it’s no surprise this tradition of great schooling extends into the public school arena. Regularly counted among the best public school systems in America by various publications, Massachusetts is a wonderful place for children to learn and prepare for college. Despite the breadth of outstanding schools in Massachusetts, there are still a number that stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Using data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE), we isolated a number of standout districts. We focused on metrics that best reflect both the quality of education and level of preparation for college, including student/teacher ratio, high school graduation rates, and average teacher salaries.
We then revisited these districts, analyzing their online engagement with students across various social channels. Finally, we looked at FBI reported data of violent and non-violent crime in each district’s region along with the number of public parks in their boundaries to determine livability. Again, we believe these metrics reflect not only the appeal of a district, but its location as well. Schools that were considered as finalists but ultimately not chosen are listed below as honorable mentions.
Founded in 2007, Pioneer CSS has set itself apart as an excellent college preparatory school despite its young age. The charter school features a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Located in the sleepy city of Everett just north of Boston, the school has excellent access to public parks and attracts students from other cities in the greater Boston area. PCSS also has one of the lowest student-teacher ratios on this list, meaning students studying more complex STEM fields get even more one-on-one time with instructors.
Photo from wickedlocal.com
Mystic Valley boasts a student waiting list that numbers in the thousands. With a mandatory Spanish language program and a 200-day school year, Mystic Valley’s unique approach is clearly appealing to a large number of parents and students. Sitting north of Everett in Malden, Mystic Valley is farther from Boston with a commensurate higher safety score.
Photo from Mystic Valley Regional Charter School
Calling the small suburb of Winchester home, Winchester High is among the safest schools on our list. But the school’s most impressive achievement is its nearly perfect graduation rate – 99.2 percent. With a student body of just over 1,000 this is even more commendable and it’s no surprise that Winchester is among the best non-charter high schools in the state.
Photo from Boston Globe
Continuing a trend of exemplary public charter schools, Boston Collegiate prides itself on the fact that for the past 11 years, 100 percent of its graduating classes have been accepted to college. Though they have one of the lowest graduation rates on our list, much of this is due to a smaller student body that results in a better student-teacher ratio. With a 95 percent satisfaction rate among parents, Boston Collegiate is one of the best high school options for Boston students.
Photo provided by Boston Collegiate Charter School
An established program for attracting international students sets Arlington apart from other public high schools. But on top of this, the school has an excellent graduation rate and tons of online engagement with students. Representing yet another far-flung greater Boston area suburb, Arlington also has excellent access to parks and a relatively low crime rate.
Photo from wickedlocal.com
Ranked among the 200 best public high schools in the country by US News, Belmont students produce excellent test scores and college attendance rates. A solid graduation rate and myriad of other national recognitions further bolster Belmont’s appeal.
Photo from The Belmontonian
Another relative newcomer to Massachusetts public education, AMSA opened in 2005 and has already become one of the best schools in the state. Focusing heavily on college-oriented schooling, ASMA attracts students from a wide range of surrounding towns. A well-thought out multi-year curriculum makes sure students receive a consistent education. And it works – last year the school’s graduation rate was 99 percent.
Photo from AMSA
Similar to Boston Collegiate, Wellesley High has had a 100 percent college acceptance rate for the last twelve years with its students heading to Harvard, Dartmouth, and West Point, among others. On top of this, Wellesley also offers students unique learning options such as its project-based Evolutions program. The town of Wellesley has one of the highest median household incomes in Massachusetts, which is reflected in the school’s higher-than-average teacher compensation and the second lowest crime rate on our list.
Photo from Wellesley Green Pages
Located in the smallest town on the list – Sharon, MA – it’s no surprise that Sharon High also boasts the lowest crime rate. Students have the option to join a vast assortment of clubs and activities including Model U.N., Ultimate Frisbee, and Mock Trial. This, coupled with the school’s outstanding online presence on social media, means much more engagement and involvement with its students.
Photo from Sharon High School
One of Lexington High’s most unique qualities is its absurdly long list of student clubs, each supervised by a faculty member. An excellent student-teacher ratio just adds to the fact that Lexington High strives to get students involved and actively participating in their individual educations.
Photo from Energy.gov
Sturgis Charter School
Dover-Sherborn Regional High School
Needham High School
Littleton High School
Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter School
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Featured image by the U.S. Navy/Flickr