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Best High Schools In America 2012: Newsweek Releases New Rankings

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BEST HIGH SCHOOLS
President Barack Obama, with students Meghan Clark, center, and Nathan Hughes, right, watches as they demonstrate their FIRST Robot, during a visits to a classroom at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. The robot was created in the school’s prototyping and robotics senior research labs for last year’s FIRST Robotics Competition. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) | AP

Where are the best public high schools in America? Newsweek has a whole list of answers with its "1,000 Schools That Made the Grade," released Monday.

More than a quarter that made the list are in or near New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. At the top schools, 91 percent were admitted to college. Students also had a higher average AP score -- 3.4 out of 5, compared with the national 2.8, and tended to come from families with higher incomes than average: 17.5 percent receive free or reduced-price lunches, compared with 40 percent nationally.

To determine the rankings, Newsweek factored in six criteria: the school's four-year gradation rate, college-acceptance rate, number of AP and other high-level exams given per student, average SAT/ACT scores, average AP/college-level test scores and the number of AP courses offered per student. (See full methodology.) From Newsweek:

Nearly 77 percent of the 1,000 admit students through open enrollment, with no admissions restrictions. But many of the highest spots were claimed by selective schools—where students are let in by academic achievement, admissions testing, or lottery—which makes sense given the growth of magnet, charter, and other specialty schools around the country: seven out of the top 10 schools on our list are either charter or magnet.

Those highest-ranking schools share a heavy emphasis on challenging students with college-level academics. At the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, in Bowling Green, Ky.—which came in first place—nearly all courses are university-level: in 2011, the school averaged almost five AP exams per student. Overall, the 6,514 students at the top 10 schools averaged 2.5 AP and similar International Baccalaureate exams per student.

Newsweek's list comes on the heels of U.S. News & World Report's release of its annual high school rankings. But schools like Green Valley High School in Nevada noticed their high rankings were due to errors in data from state and federal education departments.

Scroll through Newsweek's top 15 below, and click through to check out the full list of 1,000 best high schools in America here.

Newsweek Best High Schools 2012 (Top 15)
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