Rhode Island Public High Schools Span the Nation

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2021 ranking of 17,857 public high schools in the United States, including charter and magnet schools, and Rhode Island’s offerings span the list.

The top public high school in the Ocean State — Providence’s Classical High School — comes in as the 144th best school in the country, while 13 schools (mostly in Providence) are below the line at which U.S. News’ editors decided not to publish actual ranks (the bottom quarter).  The Rhode Island list, from best to worst, is provided at the end of this post, with the national rank shown (when provided).

The scores reflect each school’s performance based on six factors:

  • The proportion of seniors who took AP (or IB) exams and, additionally, who earned a qualifying score (30%)
  • A measure of students’ taking multiple AP (or IB) exams and earning qualifying scores (10%)
  • Math and reading proficiency based on state-issued standardized tests (20%)
  • Math and reading proficiency adjusted for the demographic qualities of the school (20%)
  • The size of gaps in math and reading proficiency based on demographic qualities of students (10%)
  • Graduation rate (10%)

Obviously, these measures are subjective, and changing relative weightings could make a significant difference for the results.  Moreover, the ranking makes no attempt to adjust for regional differences or for the amount that states invest in education.

Additionally, Rhode Islanders viewing the above rank should keep in mind that the straight list of 59 schools presents a distorted picture.  They aren’t evenly distributed across the national rankings — there are large jumps at some points.

The following chart illustrates that fact, with the ranks inverted, so the highest-ranking school has the largest column.  The gray box shows the bottom 25% of schools, for which U.S. News did not report the actual rank.  The solid red line is the midway point of the rank, and the dotted red line shows the cutoff for the top 25%.

RI Public High Schools by Inverted Rank

Click to enlarge.


Most conspicuously, the two steps from Rhode Island’s 26th-best high school, Rogers in Newport, to its 28th best, Providence Career Tech, is not representative of the real distance between them: about one-eighth of all schools in the country.


Rhode Island High School Ranking:

  1. Classical High School, Providence, 144
  2. Barrington High School, Barrington, 289
  3. East Greenwich High, East Greenwich, 551
  4. Portsmouth High School, Portsmouth, 1,283
  5. North Kingstown Senior High, North Kingstown, 1,382
  6. Blackstone Valley Prep High, Cumberland, 1,471
  7. South Kingstown High, South Kingstown, 1,951
  8. Exeter-West Greenwich Regional, West Greenwich, 2,020
  9. Paul Cuffee Upper School, Providence, 2,294
  10. Chariho High School, Wood River Junction, 2,509
  11. North Smithfield High School, North Smithfield, 2,578
  12. Westerly High School, Westerly, 2,982
  13. Lincoln Senior High School, Lincoln, 2,983
  14. Narragansett High School, Narragansett, 3,146
  15. Tiverton High School, Tiverton, 3,901
  16. Times2 Academy, Providence, 4,050
  17. Scituate High School, North Scituate, 4,088
  18. Cumberland High School, Cumberland, 4,106
  19. Mt. Hope High School, Bristol, 4,184
  20. Jacqueline M. Walsh School, Pawtucket, 4,637
  21. Smithfield High School, Smithfield, 5,506
  22. Coventry High School, Coventry, 5,535
  23. Middletown High School, Middletown, 5,766
  24. Ponaganset High School, North Scituate, 5,913
  25. Burrillville High School, Burrillville, 6,038
  26. Rogers High School, Newport, 6,411
  27. Cranston High School West, Cranston, 7,559
  28. Providence Career Technical, Providence, 8,866
  29. North Providence High, North Providence, 8,984
  30. Davies Career-Tech High School, Lincoln, 9,540
  31. Pilgrim High School, Warwick, 9,586
  32. Cranston High School East, Cranston, 9,758
  33. E-Cubed Academy, Providence, 9,963
  34. Johnston Senior High, Johnston, 10,042
  35. West Warwick High School, West Warwick, 10,148
  36. Beacon Charter School, Woonsocket, 10,699
  37. East Providence High, East Providence, 11,082
  38. Woonsocket High School, Woonsocket, 11,163
  39. Trinity Academy Performing Art, Providence, 11,387
  40. Toll Gate High School, Warwick, 11,580
  41. The Greene School, West Greenwich, 11,755
  42. Metropolitan Career Tech Center, Providence, 12,300
  43. Central Falls Sr. High, Central Falls, 12,581
  44. Academy for Career Exploration, Providence, 12,673
  45. William E. Tolman High, Pawtucket, 12,888
  46. Charles E. Shea High School, Pawtucket, 13,221
  47. 360 High School, Providence
  48. Blackstone Academy Charter, Pawtucket
  49. Block Island School, New Shoreham
  50. Central High School, Providence
  51. Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, Providence
  52. Evolutions High School, Providence
  53. Highlander Secondary Charter School, Providence
  54. Hope High School, Providence
  55. Mount Pleasant High, Providence
  56. Nel/Cps Construction Career, Cranston
  57. Rini Middle College, Providence
  58. Village Green Virtual, Providence
  59. WB Cooley and Acad International, Providence, 17857
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