Twenty-Two South Carolina Public High Schools Make Newsweek Magazine’s Tops in U.S. List

June 15, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – June 15, 2009 –  Twenty-two schools in South Carolina are on the 2009 Newsweek magazine “Challenge Index,” an annual ranking of the top 1,500 public high schools in the nation based on rigorous course offerings and how all students perform in those courses.

Twenty-one schools in the state made the list last year.  The state’s top-rated high school for 2009, according to the index, is Charleston County’s Academic Magnet High at number 12 nationally.  The North Charleston school was seventh on the magazine’s list in 2008.  Seven of the state’s ranked schools moved up this year, while 15 are in lower spots compared to 2008. 

Newsweek’s formula ranks schools according to a ratio that looks at the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and similar college-credit tests taken by all students at the school and then divides that by the number of graduating seniors from the previous year.  Jay Mathews, a Washington Post staff writer and Newsweek contributing editor, developed the formula more than 10 years ago.
“The rating is not a measurement of the overall quality of the school,” the news magazine notes, “but illuminates one factor that many educators consider important, challenging students with tough course work.”   The system is designed to recognize schools that challenge average students and not magnet or charter schools that draw only the best students in their areas, Newsweek said.  

Newsweek surveyed more than 27,000 high schools in the United States and the listed schools represent the nation’s top 5 percent of public high schools. This year’s index includes the names of 1,480 public high schools, but not the names of any schools that have an average SAT score topping 1950 or an AP score of 29 or higher.

South Carolina had 23 schools on the index in 2006, 16 on the list in 2007 and 21 ranked in 2008.  Greenville County has had the largest number of schools listed each year.  Palmetto state high schools and their rankings for 2009 are:


12 / Academic Magnet  / North Charleston
229 Southside  Greenville
314 Dutch Fork  Irmo
426 Hilton Head  Hilton Head
490 Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities  Greenville
718 Wade Hampton  Greenville
797 Mann  Greenville
854 A.C. Flora  Columbia
905 Woodruff  Woodruff
913 Dreher  Columbia
947 Greenville  Greenville
951 Eastside  Greenville
960 Spring Valley  Columbia
1016 Mauldin  Greenville
1027 Spartanburg  Spartanburg
1041 Irmo  Columbia
1043 Riverside  Greer
1092 Socastee  Myrtle Beach
1138 Richland Northeast  Columbia
1294 Daniel  Central
1307 Hillcrest  Simpsonville
1372 Beaufort  Beaufort