The 35 Best High Schools in DC, Maryland, and Virginia (2019)

Last updated

Background on the top 35

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 Magnet1503 Official37.41%7.29%$0MagnetCo-edAlexandriaVA
2Sidwell Friends School140010.94%6.25%$44,672 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
3National Cathedral School (NCS)1400 Official5.63%11.27%$48,290 ParochialGirls-onlyWashingtonDC
4St. Albans School13508.43%9.64%$48,682 ParochialBoys-onlyWashingtonDC
5Maret School1365 Official2.78%4.17%$37,470 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
6Georgetown Day School13438.66%8.66%$43,370 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
7St. Anselm's School1354 Official2.38%Not reported$31,050 ParochialBoys-onlyWashingtonDC
8Holton-Arms School1440 Official3.75%1.25%$42,975 PrivateGirls-onlyBethesdaMD
9The Potomac School1440 OfficialNot reported0.88%$45,985 PrivateCo-edMcLeanVA
10Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School1370 Official6.12%2.04%$37,275 PrivateCo-edRockvilleMD
11Washington International School (WIS)1310 Official1.82%7.27%$42,830 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
12Stone Ridge School1295 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$40,525 PrivateGirls-onlyBethesdaMD
13Landon School1250 Official2.74%2.74%$43,560 PrivateBoys-onlyBethesdaMD
14Georgetown Preparatory School1386 Official1.63%Not reported$71,515 PrivateBoys-onlyBethesdaMD
15Walt Whitman High School1322 Official2.24%1.22%$0PublicCo-edBethesdaMD
16Richard Montgomery High School1201 Official6.34%2.29%$0MagnetCo-edRockvilleMD
17Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School (Visi)1317 Official0.83%Not reported$30,100 PrivateGirls-onlyWashingtonDC
18St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School1250 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$39,770 ParochialCo-edAlexandriaVA
19Winston Churchill High School1252 Official2.12%0.88%$0PublicCo-edPotomacMD
20Madeira School1319 Official0.00%Not reported$62,000 PrivateGirls-onlyMcLeanVA
21School Without Walls1272 Official4.73%4.73%$0MagnetCo-edWashingtonDC
22Gonzaga College High School1285 Official1.73%0.00%$25,085 PrivateBoys-onlyWashingtonDC
23Edmund Burke School1320 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$42,390 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
24Sandy Spring Friends School1288 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$53,195 PrivateCo-edSandy SpringMD
25Emerson Preparatory School1213 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$29,425 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
26Walter Johnson High School1213 Official0.51%0.17%$0PublicCo-edBethesdaMD
27Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School1249 Official1.72%0.38%$0PublicCo-edBethesdaMD
28Thomas Wootton High School1230 Official2.06%0.00%$0PublicCo-edRockvilleMD
29McLean School1110 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$50,295 PrivateCo-edPotomacMD
30Montgomery Blair*1142 Official5.93%1.84%$0Magnet / PublicCo-edSilver SpringMD
31Bullis School1320 Official0.90%Not reported$44,850 PrivateCo-edPotomacMD
32Field School1300 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$48,260 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
33British School1230 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$35,038 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
34St. John's College High School1230 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$23,975 PrivateCo-edWashingtonDC
35Episcopal High School1330 OfficialNot reportedNot reported$58,500 ParochialCo-edAlexandriaVA

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 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 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. 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 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 15 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.