2019 Best High Schools in DC / MD / VA

RankHigh SchoolAverage SATNational Merit Semi-FinalistsPresidential Scholar CandidatesNumber Attending 15 Top CollegesTypeCityState
1Thomas Jefferson Magnet146631.90%5.61%9.18%MagnetAlexandriaVA
2Sidwell Friends School140013.76%9.70%14.40%PrivateWashingtonDC
3National Cathedral School (NCS)13999.92%9.76%15.79%PrivateWashingtonDC
4St. Albans School135013.30%7.79%14.21%PrivateWashingtonDC
5Maret School13734.74%8.07%10.42%PrivateWashingtonDC
6Georgetown Day School13437.34%4.72%9.54%PrivateWashingtonDC
7St. Anselm's School13518.09%2.94%5.22%PrivateWashingtonDC
8Holton-Arms School13519.18%2.49%7.09%PrivateBethesdaMD
9Potomac School13247.23%1.20%6.63%PrivateMcLeanVA
10Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School12954.92%1.43%5.55%PrivateRockvilleMD
11Washington International School (WIS)12851.34%1.43%4.37%PrivateWashingtonDC
12Stone Ridge School12682.77%1.27%3.66%PrivateBethesdaMD
13Landon School12892.90%0.61%6.20%PrivateBethesdaMD
14Georgetown Preparatory School12922.27%0.65%4.70%PrivateWashingtonDC
15Walt Whitman High School12723.65%0.53%Not reportedPublicBethesdaMD
16Richard Montgomery High School11906.22%1.07%4.45%PublicRockvilleMD
17Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School (Visi)12542.51%0.84%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
18St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School12542.27%0.00%Not reportedPrivateAlexandriaVA
19Winston Churchill High School11071.93%0.38%4.30%PublicPotomacMD
20Madeira School12591.66%0.00%1.34%PrivateMcLeanVA
21School Without Walls12021.07%0.97%Not reportedMagnetWashingtonDC
22Gonzaga College High School12301.53%0.43%2.11%PrivateWashingtonDC
23Edmund Burke School12411.26%0.00%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
24Sandy Spring Friends School12301.17%0.00%Not reportedPrivateSandy SpringMD
25Emerson Preparatory School12000.35%0.00%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
26Walter Johnson High School11741.19%0.21%0.87%PublicBethesdaMD
27Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School11461.63%0.47%Not reportedPublicBethesdaMD
28Thomas Wootton High School12341.73%0.32%Not reportedPublicRockvilleMD
29McLean School11260.86%0.00%Not reportedPublicPotomacMD
30Montgomery Blair*11166.13%1.62%Not reportedPublicSilver SpringMD
31Bullis SchoolNot reported0.20%0.00%2.40%PrivatePotomacMD
32Field SchoolNot reported0.82%0.00%1.30%PrivateWashingtonDC
33British SchoolNot reported0.35%0.00%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
34St. John's College High SchoolNot reported0.24%0.00%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
35Episcopal High SchoolNot reported0.35%0.00%3.73%PrivateAlexandriaVA

Methodology: ranking the best high schools

Academically, what are the top high schools in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia? These rankings are a rigorous answer to that question, based solely on objective academic measures.

Also answered are common questions about high schools. Which schools send the highest percentage of their students to top colleges? Which schools have the most National Merit semi-finalists? Which schools have the highest average SAT scores?

Highlights of the rankings:

  • 1 public high school, Thomas Jefferson (tuition: $0) and Montgomery Blair (tuition: $0), outranked every private high school in the DC metro area.
  • Otherwise, private high schools dominate the rankings.
  • 1 DC public high school made the list. It was #22 – the School Without Walls, a magnet high school.


*Montgomery Blair was scored on the basis of its entire student body, rather than its magnet program alone, because magnet students at that school are mainstreamed in many classes.

3 factors were weighted equally:

  1. Average SAT (math and critical reading)
  2. Average number of Presidential Scholar candidates
  3. Average number of National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists

For many high schools, we also reported the average number of students who went on to attend 15 top colleges. This number was not included for ranking purposes. The schools included were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Each criterion was normalized to make it comparable to the other criteria. The Min-Max method was used to create raw scores:

xt – minc(xt0) / (maxc(xt0 – minc(xt0)).

High schools were ranked by raw score.

Data sources

1 SAT Average. Calculated by adding average Math and average Critical Reading scores. Scores for all public high schools, all magnet high schools, National Cathedral School (NCS), Stone Ridge School, Gonzaga, St. Anselm’s, Washington International School, Holton-Arms, and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School were obtained from the schools’ websites. Maret School scores were obtained from their 2015-16 Curriculum Guide. Scores for Sidwell, Emerson, Georgetown Day, and Georgetown Visitation were obtained from the Washington Examiner. Scores for other private high schools were obtained via private communication with school staff.

2 National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists. Calculated by averaging the percentage of National Merit Semi-finalists from 2006-2015.

3 Presidential Scholar Candidates. Calculated by averaging the percentage of Presidential Scholar Candidates from 2006-2015.

4 Number attending 15 Top Colleges. This is an average of the percentage of students from each high school who went on to attend 15 top schools from 2004 to 2014. The schools included were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. The methods of obtaining this information were inspired by three different studies and included collecting the high schools’ self-reports and viewbooks from the 15 colleges. Education researcher Sam Tuo collected these data from 2004 to 2014.