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America's Best High Schools 2010

Eight High Schools Among Best in U.S.

ABHS badgeJordan High joins the Newsweek list for the first time.

Breaking its own record again, the Long Beach Unified School District now boasts an all-time high of eight schools on Newsweek’s annual listing of America’s Top High Schools.

Joining the elite ranking of the top 6 percent of public schools in the U.S. this year for the first time is Jordan High School in North Long Beach. Jordan’s rigorous International Baccalaureate college prep program helped the school to secure a coveted spot on the list. IB high school courses are honored at the best universities throughout the world as indicative of outstanding academic training.

"Having eight of our high schools ranked within the top 6 percent in the nation -- even after we've cut more than $200 million over the past three years -- is a testament to the tenacity of our teachers, support staff, administrators, students and parents," said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools for the Long Beach Unified School District.

"Clearly, there is something special going on in this school district," Steinhauser said. "Unfortunately, this news comes during the same week that we've laid off nearly 800 employees due to the state's continued fiscal mismanagement. Never has it been more clear that our state Legislature is squandering California's human capital by starving nationally recognized school systems like ours of precious resources."

Each year, Newsweek picks the best high schools in the nation based upon how hard school staffs work to challenge students with college-level courses and tests.

LBUSD high schools surpass other well respected schools such as nearby Los Alamitos High School, even while LBUSD serves a more challenging student population. LBUSD’s California Academy of Mathematics and Science in Carson, Wilson Classical High School, Polytechnic High School, Renaissance High School for the Arts, Lakewood High School and Avalon School on Catalina Island all out-rank Los Alamitos High School.

The percentage of disadvantaged students - those receiving free or subsidized lunches (noted as "subs. lunch" in the rankings) - is 45 percent, 48 percent, 63 percent, 59 percent, 46 percent and 61 percent respectively at CAMS, Wilson, Poly, Renaissance, Lakewood and Avalon. By comparison, only 10 percent of Los Alamitos students receive free and reduced-price lunches.

Long Beach’s Millikan High School also made the list, just behind the Los Alamitos ranking, even though 56 percent of Millikan students receive subsidized meals.

Among all of these local schools in the ranking, Jordan by far faces the greatest challenge when it comes to the poverty, with 98 percent of its students qualifying for reduced-price meals.

Local schools’ rankings (with the percentage of students receiving subsidized lunches) are:

560 - CAMS (45% subs. lunch)

870 - Wilson (48% subs. lunch)

1,055 - Poly (63% subs. lunch)

1,203 - Renaissance (59% subs. lunch)

1,316 - Lakewood (46% subs. lunch)

1,347 - Avalon (61% subs. lunch)

1,416 - Los Alamitos (10% subs. lunch)

1,482 - Millikan (56% subs. lunch)

1,676 - Jordan (98% subs. lunch)

Newsweek creates the rankings by taking the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge (AICE) tests given at a school each year and dividing by the number of seniors graduating in May or June.