2017 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
2Montgomery Blair Magnet148825.69%4.51%Not reportedMagnetSilver SpringMD
3Sidwell Friends School140013.76%9.70%14.40%PrivateWashingtonDC
4National Cathedral School (NCS)13999.92%9.76%15.79%PrivateWashingtonDC
5St. Albans School135013.30%7.79%14.21%PrivateWashingtonDC
6Maret School13734.74%8.07%10.42%PrivateWashingtonDC
7Georgetown Day School13437.34%4.72%9.54%PrivateWashingtonDC
8St. Anselm's School13518.09%2.94%5.22%PrivateWashingtonDC
9Holton-Arms School13519.18%2.49%7.09%PrivateBethesdaMD
10Potomac School13247.23%1.20%6.63%PrivateMcLeanVA
11Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School12954.92%1.43%5.55%PrivateRockvilleMD
12Washington International School (WIS)12851.34%1.43%4.37%PrivateWashingtonDC
13Stone Ridge School12682.77%1.27%3.66%PrivateBethesdaMD
14Landon School12892.90%0.61%6.20%PrivateBethesdaMD
15Georgetown Preparatory School12922.27%0.65%4.70%PrivateWashingtonDC
16Walt Whitman High School12723.65%0.53%Not reportedPublicBethesdaMD
17Richard Montgomery High School11906.22%1.07%4.45%PublicRockvilleMD
18Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School (Visi)12542.51%0.84%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
19St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School12542.27%0.00%Not reportedPrivateAlexandriaVA
20Winston Churchill High School11071.93%0.38%4.30%PublicPotomacMD
21Madeira School12591.66%0.00%1.34%PrivateMcLeanVA
22School Without Walls12021.07%0.97%Not reportedMagnetWashingtonDC
23Gonzaga College High School12301.53%0.43%2.11%PrivateWashingtonDC
24Edmund Burke School12411.26%0.00%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
25Sandy Spring Friends School12301.17%0.00%Not reportedPrivateSandy SpringMD
26Emerson Preparatory School12000.35%0.00%Not reportedPrivateWashingtonDC
27Walter Johnson High School11741.19%0.21%0.87%PublicBethesdaMD
28Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) High School11461.63%0.47%Not reportedPublicBethesdaMD
29Thomas Wootton High School12341.73%0.32%Not reportedPublicRockvilleMD
30McLean School11260.86%0.00%Not reportedPublicPotomacMD
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:

  • 2 public high schools, 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.


The magnet population of each magnet high school was calculated separately from the mainstream population, if any.

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.