The 34 Best High Schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia (2019)

Last updated

Background on the top 34

What are the top high schools in the DC metro area? We spent hundreds of hours looking at academic data to find out who has the smartest students.

The top 3

The magnet public high school Thomas Jefferson, known for its STEM emphasis, outranked every school in the DC metro area. Sidwell Friends, known for its scions of famous families, ranked #2. The all-girls National Cathedral School rounded out the top 3.

Ranking methods and references

Click here to learn more about our methods and references.

RankHigh SchoolAverage SATNational Merit Semi-FinalistsPresidential ScholarsTuition and feesTypeGenderCityState
1Thomas Jefferson Magnet1503Official37.41%7.29%$0MagnetCo-edAlexandriaVA
2Sidwell Friends School1480Official (Median)10.94%6.25%$44,672PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
3National Cathedral School (NCS)1400Official 5.63%11.27%$48,290ParochialGirls-onlyWashingtonDC
4St. Albans School1460Official (Median)8.43%9.64%$48,682ParochialBoys-onlyWashingtonDC
5Maret School1365Official2.78%4.17%$37,470PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
6Holton-Arms School1440Official3.75%1.25%$42,975PrivateGirls-onlyBethesdaMD
7The Potomac School1440OfficialNot reported0.88%$45,985PrivateCo-edMcLeanVA
8Georgetown Day School1410Official (Median)8.66%8.66%$43,370PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
9St. Anselm's School1342Official2.38%Not reported$31,050ParochialBoys-onlyWashingtonDC
10Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School1370Official6.12%2.04%$37,275PrivateCo-edRockvilleMD
11The Heights School1330Official5.08%Not reported$28,750ParochialBoys-onlyPotomacMD
12Washington International School (WIS)1310Official1.82%7.27%$42,830PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
13Georgetown Preparatory School1386Official1.63%Not reported$71,515PrivateBoys-onlyBethesdaMD
14Walt Whitman High School1322Official2.24%1.22%$0PublicCo-edBethesdaMD
15Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School (Visi)1339Official0.83%Not reported$30,100PrivateGirls-onlyWashingtonDC
16Stone Ridge School1295OfficialNot reportedNot reported$40,525PrivateGirls-onlyBethesdaMD
17Bullis School1320Official0.90%Not reported$44,850PrivateCo-edPotomacMD
18British School1331OfficialNot reportedNot reported$35,038PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
19Montgomery Blair*1318Official5.93%1.84%$0MagnetCo-edSilver SpringMD
20Gonzaga College High School1297Official1.73%1.73%$23,550PrivateBoys-onlyWashingtonDC
21Landon School1250Official2.74%2.74%$43,560PrivateBoys-onlyBethesdaMD
22Richard Montgomery High School1244Official6.34%2.29%$0PublicCo-edRockvilleMD
23Sandy Spring Friends School1288OfficialNot reportedNot reported$53,195PrivateCo-edSandy SpringMD
24Walter Johnson High School1289Official0.51%0.17%$0PublicCo-edBethesdaMD
25Winston Churchill High School1252Official2.12%0.88%$0PublicCo-edPotomacMD
26Madeira School1288Official0.00%Not reported$62,000PrivateGirls-onlyMcLeanVA
27School Without Walls1272Official4.73%4.73%$0MagnetCo-edWashingtonDC
28Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School1250Official1.72%0.38%$0PublicCo-edBethesdaMD
29Edmund Burke School1230OfficialNot reportedNot reported$42,390PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
30Thomas Wootton High School1229Official2.06%0.00%$0PublicCo-edRockvilleMD
31St. John's College High SchoolNot reportedNot reportedNot reported$23,975PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
32Episcopal High SchoolNot reportedNot reportedNot reported$58,500ParochialCo-edAlexandriaVA
33St. Stephen's and St. Agnes SchoolNot reportedNot reportedNot reported$39,770ParochialCo-edAlexandriaVA
34Field SchoolNot reportedNot reportedNot reported$48,260PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC

Methodology: ranking the best high schools


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 14 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 by the min-max method to create raw scores:

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

High schools were ranked by raw score.


1 SAT Average. Calculated by adding average Math Test and average Reading Test scores.

Thomas Jefferson Magnet
Sidwell Friends School
National Cathedral School (NCS)
St. Albans SchoolSam Tuo
Maret School
Holton-Arms School
The Potomac School
Georgetown Day School
St. Anselm's School
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
The Heights School
Washington International School (WIS)
Georgetown Preparatory School
Walt Whitman High School
Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School (Visi)
Stone Ridge School
Bullis School
British School
Montgomery Blair*
Gonzaga College High School
Landon School
Richard Montgomery High School
Sandy Spring Friends School
Walter Johnson High School
Winston Churchill High School
Madeira School
School Without Walls
Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School
Edmund Burke School
Thomas Wootton High School

2 National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists. Calculated by dividing the number of 2018 class year National Merit Semi-finalists by the number of students in the 2018 class year.

3 Presidential Scholar Candidates. Calculated by dividing the number of 2018 class year presidential scholar candidates by the number of students in the 2018 class year.

4 Number attending 14 Top Colleges. This is an average of the percentage of students from each high school who went on to attend 14 top colleges from 2004 to 2014. The schools included were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, 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 colleges. Education researcher Sam Tuo collected these data from 2004 to 2014.

*Note: 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.