Washington Post Staff Report
Saturday, December 6, 2008
For the second year in a row, the selective Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County has been named the country's top public high school in a ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
The magazine's "gold medal list," published online this week, was developed through a formula using such variables as state test scores, student demographics and performance in college-level courses.
It included several other schools from the Washington area in the top 100: Walt Whitman High in Bethesda (No. 44), Thomas S. Wootton High in Rockville (No. 54), McLean High (No. 55), Winston Churchill High in Potomac (No. 57), Langley High in McLean (No. 76) and W.T. Woodson High in Fairfax (No. 90).
McLean and Woodson cracked the magazine's top 100 for the first time. The others were repeats from last year.
With a large number of students who take Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, the Washington area has long been known as an academic powerhouse.
Jefferson's reputation has been strong for years because it selects top students from a broad pool across Northern Virginia.
The Washington Post and Newsweek also rank high schools through a methodology developed by Post education columnist Jay Mathews. His Challenge Index measures participation in AP and IB exams. His annual local rankings are scheduled to be published Thursday in The Post's Extra sections.
The U.S. News ratings did not include D.C. schools because the magazine said there were insufficient data from the District.
The ratings gave local educators fresh bragging rights.
"We have high expectations for our students and our schools and are so proud of the way their success comes repeatedly when measured against national standards," Montgomery Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said.
Fairfax schools spokesman Paul Regnier said, "We are happy to learn that several of our high schools have been recognized as among the best in the nation. It is especially gratifying that Thomas Jefferson, our world-class science and technology magnet school, has been ranked No. 1."