The Best Schools (For You and Your Kid)

Public versus private. It’s an age-old debate in these parts, but today parents all over the Hub are reexamining their long-held assumptions about what’s best for their kids.

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schools public

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Our rankings this year were computed by statistician George Recck, director of the Math Resource Center at Babson College. As in years past, we gathered data on area schools by consulting school officials and websites, as well as the Massachusetts Department of Education. With this information, Recck calculated mean scores for each data category and then ranked schools based on their distance from the averages. With this traditional performance ranking in hand, he also evaluated performance against tuition, producing a ranking that shows which high schools deliver the most academic bang for the buck.

For schools that did not provide figures, the average was used as a placeholder when computing the rankings.

Our rankings focused on schools in Eastern Massachusetts, mostly inside or around the 495 belt. If your school is not on the list, it does not mean it did poorly, it just means it fell outside our coverage area.

  • Jane

    Why is Roxbury Latin not on the top-10 list? Absurd.

  • leonard
  • Len

    Why is Boston Latin School not rated number one? In every grading category it has a higher rating than Weston, which is placed first. Editor please explain.

  • Jen

    With Boston Latin Academy not on the list, one starts to wonder. Then one sees Cambridge’s only high school on the list, despite SAT scores 100 points below the next school — and MCAS proficiency far below many other public schools. One REALLY wonders. And then one notices that no public charters on the list, despite some (not all) with superior performance. Summary: seriously flawed methodology.

  • Solar

    The schools probably breathe a sigh of relief if they are at the top of the list. Those that are not are then stuck explaining why they are not up there, even if their schools are just as good, if not better, than those at the top. Schools have different strengths, and if anyone reads this article thinking this list is definitive, they’ve got problems. A school is probably relieved to find itself on the top simply because it means they don’t have to explain themselves away to interested parties. Of course the rankings are flawed, and the methodology is subjective, but it’s the job of Boston Magazine to sell copies of Boston Magazine. Scary to think how many parents will snap this up and think it has serious meaning.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone have a link to the list?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with earlier comment. How is Roxbury Latin left off this list? Please explain

  • Jean

    Just ask Harvard.

  • mark

    There is something wrong with this list when Roxbury Latin is 26th, BB&N is 27th and Waring School is 11th. BB&N produced three Rhode Scholars in 5 years and 7 in the history of the school. It’s ranked 27th here??

  • Jane

    Agree that it is beyond ridiculous that BB&N is not among the top ten. What’s even more laughable is that the same magazine has ranked these now low-ranking schools in its top few in previous, recent issues. Did Rox. Latin REALLY fall 20-some slots, or is the magazine’s methodology just a wee bit lacking?

  • Gerry

    THere is a small school in West Roxbury that is known to be an excellent and an excelent value. Why no mention of Roxbury Latin. You aredoing your readers a disservice.

  • A

    Starting in junior year (or earlier) students take at least 2 Boston University college courses per semester. This should be noted. How does this factor into rankings?

  • Jim

    No parent in his/her right mind would pass up Andover or Deerfield before your other Top 20. Get real. To borrow a phrase from above: Just ask the Ivy League admissions folks.

  • anonymous

    somebody here commented that AP courses are not applicable. I agree with Boston Magazine’s n/a notation for AP courses at this school. Their calculus class offered at BUA is NOT the equivalent of a BC calculus class (which as an AP covers 3 colege semesters). And BUA is inflexible and strict regarding when you can take college classes while AP classes seems to be open to most students willing to work hard. Boston Magazine was correct in this notation…and I feel you rated BUA way too high on the list. It is undeserving in my experience. The mistake you made was not rating Roxbury Latin higher—C’Mon! The school ahs an excellent reputation. ask any current or past parents or student. And just look at the college matriculations–which should be taken into account when compiling the final ranking.

  • Maria

    I will not buy Boston Magazine off the rack after picking up this issue and finding a list of only the “top twenty” private schools. The cover promised a list of the Best High Schools Public and Private. After reading a thin article, the fine print tells me to go to the web for the full list. On the web I’m told t I, who have paid for the magazine, will have to wait until September 29th for the full list to be released. What advantage was there in my paying for the magazine? From now on I ‘ll do my reading in office waiting rooms.

  • mark

    I checked older issues of the Boston Magazine ranking out of curiosity. BB&N made their top 7 in 2002, ranked 3rd out of 61 in 2004, and 5th out of 25 in 2006. The survey comes out every couple of years so while the ranking changed, the school stayed pretty consistent. Now 27th? There must be misdata here. Deerfield was not ranked in previous issues because it was over 2 hours from Boston. Now it’s ranked? Did the school move?
    Too much strangeness here.

  • Christine

    Most parents want their children to thrive in life. MCAS and SAT scores mislead us by implying the rankings indicate which schools will lead to the best future for our kids. It just isn’t so. I’d love to see you do an article on schools that develop the gifts and strengths of all students — and look at the results with the schools’ students from 10-20 years ago. These would be far better indicators of a school’s value-add to our next generation of leaders and citizens.
    Christine Duvivier

  • Sandra

    This is a terrible article. I bought the magazine and it really doesn’t say much. What about those kids in terrible neighborhoods that have no chance to go to neither a great public nor private one; let’s not talk about the lack of good public schools options and get just what you have. We need more kind of Excel Academy Charter schools available for kids so they can be prepared to compete no matter where they want to go whether public or private. Thanks Excel Academy to help my child to go where she is now.

  • Tim

    The print edition suggests coming to this web address to learn more on their methodology. I see nothing more here. There are clearly some differences between their last list and now, and the magazine must explain how their are such significant changes. Rox Latin and BB&N falling 20 spots is a story in and of itself.

  • reli

    this list is stupid. where are bbn and roxbury latin like everyone else said, not to mention newton north is known for pretty awful academics? was this list constructed based on what schools paid the magazine most

  • Knight

    The list of the entire rankings are at and

    I agree with the majority of the comments. I am confused why BB&N and Roxbury Latin did not make top 10.

  • Anonymous

    Is there a reason?

  • mark

    it is almost like the statistician wanted to give schools that are weaker throughout their history their due this time around. Lawrence Academy does not deserve to be in the top 20 and Montrose not in top 5. How is Commonwealth higher than Andover?
    Curious if there will be an amendment to this article in the next issue or online saying that there were problems with the data. How many phone calls could their office be getting over this?

  • Anonymous

    the next time my husband wants to renew our subscription to boston magazine, I will certainly object. This initial list is so rediculous. The same public schools named year after year. Why not check on some WONDERFUL schools in other towns and what they are accomplishing, and what new and exciting programs they are now developing. ie…Walpole high school…they are sending kids to better and better colleges, and they employ some of the most talented and dedicated teachers anywhere. I am sure there are MANY other schools in massachusetts just as qualified as Wellesley and Newton, and they are NEVER given the credit that they deserve….and what is this with waiting until the end of September for a full list this is RIDICULOUS

  • Not

    Was there some kind of memo sent out at Rox Latin and BBN to post your dissatisfaction here? You people are pathetic. Just because your school may not be doing as well as it has in the past does not automatically mean that there’s something wrong with the data or the methodology.

  • Bridget

    U.S. News & World recently did a report and ranked the top 100 high schools (public) in the country and only 2 schools from Massachusetts are on the list (Boston Latin and Belmont High). They based their rankings by looking “at more than 21,000 public high schools in 48 states. The following are the 100 schools that performed the best in our three-step Americas Best High Schools analysis.” For more info go to: and click Top 100 for rankings

  • Lynda

    Both Catholic Memorial and Mount Alvernia were worth every penny I paid. All of my children went on to attend a prestegious college. The children were in an environment where the values I was teaching at home were reinforced in school. You can’t have that in public schools where anything goes.

  • brian

    You should be embarassed to have listed RL at #26. It discredits your entire list. This is what can happen when buffoons get ahold of statistics.

  • brian

    And “Seriously”… there is absolutely something wrong with the methodology… and the data.

    I took 5 AP classes when I was at RL, and I know many more are offered, so that data is wrong. It’s also pretty clear that RL was placed lower on the list b/c it doesn’t want to publicize average SAT scores, which I guarantee are as high or higher than every other school on that list.

  • Jane

    To the person who wrote the post titled “Seriously?”: I, for one, have no affiliation with Roxbury Latin or BB&N, and believe the readership is entitled to an explanation of the extreme differences in ratings for those schools this year relative to previous years. Why are you so trusting of the magazine’s methodology? It is incumbent on Boston Magazine to defend or repudiate either its current or past methodologies given the widely discrepant rankings it has assigned to these schools over a very short period of time, and (let’s face it) given the discrepancy between how pretty much everyone in the know views Roxbury Latin and how Boston Magazine seems to view them this year.

  • Paul

    I believe first and foremost you need to look at the data before crying “foul”. Things I noticed:

    (1) B,B&N placed low b/c of SAT scores. Not close to top 10 in this area. Possibly top 20, but no higher. (2) RL penalized because without data on SAT’s there is no way to statistically compare to other schools. Could be #26, could be #1. No way to tell. Admin seems not to care b/c they do not release scores. Not sure you should care either. (3) Tabor seems over-rated based on data. (4) Boston has tons of great public and private schools. Difference b/w #1 and #25 is very small. Perhaps that is the point of the “is it worth it” discussion. $37K for a year of H/S. Perhaps, if you want to pre-select your childs’ friends it may be. If just based on academics, maybe not. Your decision. (5) And, yes, you’re right this list is to sell magazines. US News was the pioneer. B.M. just following. (6) Cancel your subscription b/c you don’t like where your child’s H/S was place

  • Sylvie

    There seems to be some misinformation about Boston University Academy. This may be a student or alum of a rival school trying to play down BUA’s assets. I know, as a current student, that the teachers set very high standards for their pupils…classes are extremely challenging and demand a huge effort. The workload is quite hefty and the members of the student body are capable and very bright. Ours is a very intellectual atmosphere and our connections with BU are unequaled with any other institution in Greater Boston. Students not only are permitted to take any University class listed (academic or extracurricular), but we are given first pick during the registration process. BUA is definitely not for everyone but it is a tremendously unique program and can be an absolutely amazing and rewarding program for the right scholar. Although I agree that much of the data presented in this article may be skewed, I am happy to find that someone has ranked our tiny gem of a school as highly as t

  • Dylan

    No BC High, St. Johns Prep, or RL in top 20
    What is this?

  • Ed

    In his March 5, 2000 piece for (These Aren’t America’s Best High Schools), James Fallows in discussing early acceptance in college rankings suggested, Colleges figured out one way to play this system. I dare some Boston area some private schools who know the key elements in the rankings formula have probably figured out ways to play this ranking process too. High rankings in Boston Magazines survey mean more student applications, which in turn generate more tuition dollars. When schools move up in ranking its good for the school and great from Boston Magazine.

    As for the ranking process itself. How can a school be #1 one year and #4 the next, and does it really matter? Was the 2009 ranking process the same as last years or that of two years ago? If it was, how can schools drop 20 positions? How can you rank a school based on one years data, when a student is looking to make a 4-year commitment? Shouldnt you use a 4-year average? Are schools with 89 st

  • annie

    It seems the positive and defensive BUA “comments” recently posted here are merely reviews written by staff members or admissions officers at the school. There is a reason why BUA was # 1 a few years ago and has fallen several spots since then. One need only look at the leadership. Since Commonwealth is BUA’s biggest rival, it is doubtful that parents or students from this rival school would post negative comments (as someone here claims)about BUA since Commonwealth was ranked #1 private school in this new issue–way ahead of BUA (for obvious reasons) BUA simply is not what it presents itself to be and as someone with EXPERIENCE with this school, I say it should not have been ranked in the top 20; and it certainly should have been BEHIND Roxbury Latin! The school is not what it used to be and this is what happens when lawyers and business men run a school like it is a firm or a monetary business venture.

  • marina

    Here’s why BB&N and Roxbury Latin are ranked low this year: a few years ago, Boston Magazine gave them trivial titles (e.g.BBB&N=”best dressed”). Hence, the schools refused to cooperate for yet another bogus story by this rag of a mag and Boston Magazine took its revenge on these schools by ranking them below places like Lawrence Academy. That’s where you go when you flunk out of BB&N, by the way. What a joke this survey and this magazine are. I wouldn’t line my cat’s litter box with this “magazine”. He deserves better.

  • Tim

    In 2006, BM ranked RL #4 and BBN#5. They’ve both dropped more than 20 spots in three years. They are the most referenced here so I looked, just to check, at BB&N website. S:F ratio is 7:1 there, while in the chart it’s 8:1. Other data seem right. But still, one error on one school. How many are there wrong in total? And, these are so subjective if not compared equally. What constititues faculty? Librarians and counselors count at some schools, lowering this ratio. Same for class size. Count independent studies, and the average drops. THE MAGAZINE MUST EXPLAIN MORE THOROUGHLY their methodology to account for the at least one mistake (I assume many more) AND how some schools are so vastly different from 2006. This is unacceptable journalism that could greatly hurt many of these schools. They’re all great – focus on making choices from visiting many public and private options and doing what is best for the STUDENT. Shame on Boston Magazine.

  • Diane

    While I reside in Weston and my children attend Weston HS, even I am confused by this ranking. I think Boston Magazine needs to verify their information and research the stats before publication. For example, entered into the eqauation for your ranking system is ‘student/teacher ratio’. You state Weston HS has a ration for 1:11. This could not be further from the truth! My son had 28 children in his honor’s HS math class last year (luckily, some dropped out early on) and had 26 kids in his HS Bio lab. Weston has made a cost-cutting decision this year to allow even larger class sizes in HS, so many students (whose parents pay $$$$ taxes to support the school) were turned away for many courses. In fact, they will not longer open a course section unless they have 15 students. So we may see Math and science classes this year with 29 students. A slanted article and ranking such as this just allows schools, like Weston HS, that are resting on their laurels to continue to do so. It won’t be

  • Jim

    Many of the top listed private schools are so small that they offer very little in the way of team sports. These schools are limited too when it comes to comprehensive course offerings given their limited faculty resources. There should be a minimum school size cut-off for consideration on this list. Some of these little schools like Montrose and Waring represent “glorified home schooling”. My kid’s school is on the list, but I’d hate to be a parent of a kid at RL, BBN, NMH or Brooks for that matter! The methodology for these rankings should be laid out.

  • Laurie

    One important matrix the article could have examined and didn’t is the number of students who took and passed AP exams. A simple Google search found that in 2008 BB&N had 188 students take 334 exams – 91% scored 3 or above. The authors could have used this information as a simple assessment of the rigor of AP courses offered at these schools.

    No discussion of college admissions either!

  • Pete

    Pete, Thought you’d be interested.

  • mark

    I was reading the posts tonight and as an alum I’m stunned that the school is ranked #27. I agree with many of the above posts. I also feel that Brooks, Dana Hall, and RL should have been much higher, maybe not top #10 ranked, but at least top #20. I went to the BB&N website and the top 9 colleges placed for the last 6 years were:
    1) Harvard 38
    2) BC 27
    3) NYU 22
    4) GW 20
    5) Tufts 20
    6) U Penn 20
    7) Wesleyan 20
    8) Washington U 20
    9) Yale 18
    For the post that called some people pathetic, is the above college placement poor for a high school ranked #27th? Enough said. This is why the rankings are horrifyingly bad.

  • Peters

    I frankly don’t understand how this list was made, and how the facts in this article were researched. Applications to private high schools, especially boarding schools were the highest they have ever been. And how is Phillips Exeter not on the top list for private schools and how is Boston Latin not #1 for public? Basically, they’ve written an article with barely any real facts… They also forget that a much higher PERCENTAGE of people from top tier private schools get into great colleges…

  • Aaron

    Kurtz: “What did they tell you?”
    Willard: “They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.”
    Kurtz: “Are my methods unsound?”
    Willard: “I don’t see any method, at all, sir.”

    This past year’s graduating class at BBN sent almost 30% to Ivy League schools. So we should assume that where graduates go to college is not a good indicator of educational quality? Boston Mag has some explaining to do. You look like a bunch of clowns at this point.

  • mark

    To Apocalypse poster with insightful comments, I listed the top 9 placements over the last six years above for BB&N. Your post is accurate. The magazine is boycotting BB&N and RL for some reason and intentionally ranking them low this issue. After such high placement in three previous school issues (2002, 2004, 2006), even if both institutions slipped, my logic would not have them slipping this badly. maybe top 15, bot not top 30 placement. Curious if an amendment will be released with data during the October issue. One poster above already found a mistake in the stats.

  • Abby

    Even some admissions people and school heads are all worked up over this issue! Many will claim the magazine’s methodology does not consider other less obvious factors. But I think the flawed methodology has actually helped some schools achieve higher rankings. A tiny school like BU Academy can whine about unfair treatment on this site or on their school web site because they, supposedly, offer college courses in lieu of APs. But the college courses offered in Junior year (keep in mind that other ‘preps’ and ‘publics’ offer APs to Sophomores and even some Freshman) do not follow the college board or prepare you for the AP exam. I think BUA is upfront about this too; or at least they were to me during the school tour. I think that their lack of AP offering and the inflexibity and stringent guideline adherence to university course access should cost them in the ranking. I think BUA folk are sore because Commonwealth, rightfully so, handily beat them out in the ranking. This school needs

  • Carlos

    Acton-Boxboruogh High School has consistently been the MA representative in the National Academic Decathalon, and received acclaim in nearly every national public school ranking,yet the school is not ranked in your top 10-please explain.

  • Will

    I have had two kids go through two different ISL schools. Rox Latin has always been considered one of the top schools, hardest to get into and has the best matricualtion….but BB&N not even close, you hear about kids getting into BB&N with very low SSAT scores and awful grade point averages from their previous schools.

  • Gerry

    Clearly parents take the responsibility of choosing the best school for thier children very seriously. The e-mail responses clearly indicate they are not happy with the rigor that went into developing the rankings. If Boston Magazine had taken the rankings more seriously, or properly detailed how the schools were ranked you could take this article wouldbe more creditable.

    I know as a parent researching schools on the academic measures and our needs Roxbury Latin came out on top, based upon college admissions and sat scores. We are lucky in the Boston area and there are many excellent schools , but these rankings are absurd. What child would turn down RL to go to Lawerence Academy? or any number of other schools ranked higher. They may revealed the school lunch quality was a major factor!!

  • Ted

    So sorry, but I never thought of Acton/Boxborough as a top 10 public. Most Massachusetts parents are well aware of the “top 10” and they are generally consistently ranked that way in these publications.I think the school that was ranked unfairly in this issue is Boston Latin. They have the highest standardized test scores, SATs, AP offerings, etc. yet they lost out on the top spots due to the bogus category of teacher/pupil ratio. Public Schools are able to skew this ratio only because they may employ more teachers that are designated only to special needs students…or are classroom aids. BL does not have these numerous tutors or special needs aids at their disposal–yet their test scores are still on top! I think that bogus stat needs to be researched more before publishing your mag. I know of no public schools that have such small class sizes as would be the inference from this ranking.

  • linda

    While I do think Your top 10 List is Marginal I also Think You missed the whole point of private or Public school.It’s not about public vs private it’s about Where will your child reach your full potenial. It’s about Personality learning styles,
    People need to take a good look at their children and see what do they need to be the best they can be. There are so many variables. My advice is don’t be lazy do the work talk to many people learn all you can and don’t discount any school.
    Many private Schools are diverse you need to look for them and wealthy students have alot to add to the adverage income child to diversify their lives as well.

  • linda

    I’m not sure where all the info for this article came from. I have receive 4 letters from schools my child applied to stating that in the history of that particular school they have never had more qualified applicants. Yet your article makes it seem like these private schools are desparte and are losing lot’s of students. Who’s Telling the Truth!!!

  • Christopher

    Why isn’t BB&N on the top 10? Its easily better then all of the schools that made the list. Absolutley absurd.

  • Lexi

    Mount Alvernia was ranked higher this year than Ursuline. Ursuline by far has the better academics, facilities, sports, college acceptances, AP offerings, and SAT scores. These statistics are not even disputable; I have no idea who can see otherwise.

  • Dylan

    WHO REALLY CARES? BBN and RL people need to chill out. Okay, the rankings are probably the worst 20 schools- but there is no need to freek out. I can tell you didn’t learn stress manegment in your HS.

  • Dylan

    BC HIGH should be on here. Great academics, Jesuits teaching you to be a great person, and great athletics.

  • sandy

    This list is bogus. anyone who is in the know about private schools would realize this. The fact that BBN and RL kids are so upset underscores how well those schools served them, hence the pride and loyalty!

  • jane

    You have got to be kidding me! Cambridge R&L ranked 156 out of 346 in Math with an average score of 77. In English they ranked 232 out of 349 with an average score of 70. In Science a rank of 230 out of 336 with an average score of 47! Cambridge’s per pupil expenditure is over $25,000 per pupil compared to a state average of $12,500. The only legitimate rank in the top twenty is in cost per pupil. Points should be taken away because of such high cost per pupil spending and atrocious scores. Once upon a time, rankings by Boston Magazine were credible.

  • Jane

    The last two rankings has Cambridge Rindge and Latin in the top. In both articles it mentioned George Recck, director of the Math Resource Center at Babson College, ranked schools based. I think it may be time to dump Mr. Recck if you want to regain your credibility. I would love an explanation from Mr. Recck on Cambridge’s ranking.

  • mark

    first and foremost, I am sleeping at night, am not traumatized by this ranking,and continue to function well in society. rereading my comments, I shouldn’t have written stunned which might have been interpreted as “upset”. But with all due respect if Harvard or Princeton dropped to #35 in US NEWS, would both schools have reason to complain or brush it off? A logical person would ask why. I am asking the same question. The education I received at BB&N put college and my mba program to relative shame. 4 hours of studying a night and focus on critical thinking changed my life forever as a teenager. my parents called it worth every penny. three of my friends were Rhodes Scholars and Fulbright scholars and are truly making a difference in society. if anything I’m happy that this is raising interesting questions as to what is a good education and school….thanks to everyone for posting.

  • pam

    BB&N is not necessarily “Harvard” or “Princeton” caliber though. I think of it along the lines of a “Georgetown” or possibly a “Duke”. Andover, RL are Harvard and Princeton caliber. BB&N deserved to be ranked before many of the other schools still. There we agree.

  • Carrrie

    BLS should be #1 not #17 – just look at the scores, spenditure per pupil. #1 in the Country for Ivy League acceptances. And given the diversity of the student population as well. EXPLAIN????

  • Jamie

    If you would like more explanation about the methodology, please click here.

  • Matthew

    I too was perplexed not to see RL on the list. Why were they excluded?

  • Deb

    Thanks but you need to eliminate the teacher/pupil ratio figure since it is highly misleading. Our school states 11.0:1 and I can tell you that in my child’s HS classes MOST have 25+ children AND she was forced to elimiate 2 of his course choices since they were oversubscribed (and was left with no science class this year). Is this what a top school ranking means? # of teachers/aids in any one school does not equate to a true class size. Get rid of that criteria or actually confirm average class size. Your final figure for our school system is WAY off!

  • mark

    Then based on the criteria & methodology why did they include Deerfield Academy if the goal was including schools in eastern MA? Deerfield is two hours from Boston near Northampton. Why not include Northfield Mount Hermon in the rankings? excellent school close to Deerfield. Too many inconsistencies here.

  • Gerry

    Clearly, utilizing the average for data unavailable is simply silly. Clearly, the results are dramatically swayed by this method. Top schools who do not provide this information are signifcantly penalized. These schools should not be evaluated, should have been identified as such.The whole concept of rating schools requires that the data is consistant between schools. It was not, hence a ridiculous outcome.

  • Maureen

    We sent our eldest son to private school for grades 5-8, then to Wellesley High School. We currently have two other children there, and another in the pipeline. Our experience is that private schools have nicer buildings and better food, but when compared to a top suburban high school, that’s where the difference ends. There’s much more intellectual and cultural diversity in public schools, and the kids learn that they have to step up to the plate to get what they want. Private schools display everything on a silver tray, and constantly pass it around.

  • Sydney

    This list isn’t even worth considering, Roxbury Latin and BB&N aren’t even on the list, not to mention Boston Latin School has the BEST test scores, as seen in the article, however gets ranked #17, when in the top schools in the country BLS is near #17. They just picked all the well funded suburban schools, how distasteful. Goodbye Boston Magazine subscription. This list was thoroughly inaccurate, if I myself, a proud Boston Latin School student. Also having gone to the Park School, feeding to some of the aforementioned private schools, allows me to judge that category as well.

  • Steve

    Sharon is a horrible school system, how they got their ranking is beyond me. If you don’t practice the main religion in that town, they make a point of making you feel VERY un-welcome. We moved out, best decision ever. Easton, Canton, Stoughton are far better, they just dont have an army of private tutors to inflate the test scores

  • Alfred

    Are you kidding me ? The Rivers school considered on the list ? There are 30 schools that should have been listed before that place.

  • Tabitha

    Algonquin is a superior High School to Westborough, let alone the fact that Teacher Student Ratio in Westborough is one of the highest in Metro West. You guys missed the boat on this one.

  • Matt

    Interesting that a week after the article was published that the magazine finally responds with the details promised in print about methodology. No indication of apology to their readers about its omission, a clear and hurtful error. Indeed, as previously commented, to use the average when no data is available is sound practice given some sets of data, but not when calculating rankings where upwards of 30% of an average weighs in for a school. The magazine must publish this methodology in their next issue and apologize for the way it can mislead the data. Again, several great schools dropping 20+ spots from the last ranking NEEDS to be explained, and this flawed methodology tossed out.

  • Hthaiwon

    The rankings are insignificant- as a parent of an RL boy, I (years ago) followed what the article’s title suggest and found the best school for my son. This ranking does not change my view of Roxbury Latin.

  • Maureen

    Many parents choose private school because they want the cachet that comes with it and many make large donations to ensure a spot for siblings. Parents want to mingle with other wealthy families, have their children befriend like-minded kids, and stay in a bubble until their kids head to college. Walk around a school like Nobles: all the kids look alike, talk alike, dress alike…they vacation in the same places and go to the same summer camps. They remind me of Stepford Kids. How can this give them any advantage later in life? Some private schools just churn out a group of smart, attractive robots.

  • Michael

    Boston Latin School—-Sumus Primi!!!! All others please assume your place in line begind the Wolfpack. Thank you.

  • Michael

    Boston Latin School—-Sumus Primi!!!! All others please assume your place in line behind the Wolfpack. Thank you.

  • polly

    LA has been trying very hard to increase a positive reputation. The school is more selective in what type of student they accept. The academic expectation has increased and getting an A in class is hard to do. The results are seen in the caliber of colleges the class of 2009 will be attending. Keep up the good work LA!

  • Ann Marie

    As a parent who pulled my son out of BC High I found admission director Mike Brennan’s comment extremely interesting. Once enrolled at BC High the story really changes. Fierce market? Stakes are high? Hmmmm they really do not act that way once you are a student at BC High. They act as if they have done you a favor and to hit the road if you dare, dare, dare to ask a question. The guidance department is deplorable. No one will give any answers of any substance. The admissions “sales pitch” is slick and they make promises that they cannot keep. The availability of honors classes/AP classes is horrendous – any MA public school out there will trump BC High any day with available AP/Honors classes. I hope that this place does not make the final list that will be published at the end of September. BC High is NOT a quality educational institution. I, immensely, regret ever sending my honor roll, junior honor society, and 90th + percentile admissions test-scoring son to this place. “Stakes are

  • Dylan

    To the other BCHS post- BCH is a tough school. They limit honors classes to younger kids because a regular class is like an honors at a public school.

    Its a pretty good school- except you wont get the same high grades and class rank that you would have gotten at a public school- but colleges know that.

  • mark

    is there anyone that’s happy with the rankings??? and if so then why? is it because your institution finished high??? would love to see answers….

  • Joe

    Of course those who are top will publish the link on their school’s web site.Tthose ranked lower will argue the methodology. Most people who are savvy understand that RL and Andover are top and should have been ranked ahead of many (most?)of the schools on the PS list. There is even someone who posted here from top ranked Weston stating that do not deserve the top spot based on methodology used as it relates to class size, and according to them, the posted stat for student teacher ratio is inaccurate. I have heard large class sizes in Weston and the elimination of classes to be a problem too so maybe not all are happy even if their school lands on top.

  • Pam

    My child attends Commonwealth and we are very happy with the ranking of private schools in this issue. Commonwealth is a small school but offers much. One need only look at the percentage of national merit scholars and the impressive college matriculations as well as AP offerings–which I feel are a valid criteria for ranking schools–to determine Commonwealth’s worth. Plus…everyone who goes to this school (parents and students) are so HAPPY with their choice…which is not the case with similar independent schools in Boston. For a small, highly academic school located in urban Boston, you can’t beat it. I agree that RL should have been rated much higher than it was as I feel it is equivalent to Commonwealth, and BM gave no valid reason for their low ranking of RL.

  • Gerry

    Look up Roxbury Latin in wikipedia if you want a more comprehensive understanding of the school.

    School rated number 1 in both Sat scores and quality admission 20% of 2009 RL graduates went to Harvard

    Boston magazine ratings are clearly inacurate

  • L.

    Okay, I understand why people are all in a tizzy because schools are rated too low or too high. But seriously people, if you have kids in one of these schools, or you go to one of these schools, you know why you picked that certain school and it really shouldn’t matter that Boston Magazine rated it #17th or #1. Just relax. BM does this every year and everyone gets all worked up over “incorrect ranking.” Just numbers don’t give the full picture of a school: if you really want to rank schools correctly, go visit each school and talk to people and look at the numbers. And frankly, I think we all have better things to do than debate over the rankings.

  • steven

    Not one comment focussed on the important issue of “flavor”, i.e. which school is the best match for the child. The school size, subject emphasis, sports emphasis, artistic opportunities, etc., are all important variables that cannot be easily evaluated, except on the basis of the individual child. Almost all comments seem to believe that the essence of the school is whether you get into Harvard. An interesting reflection on the writers is that ther is not a single mention of Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Berkeley, University of Chicago, etc. What, are you all lawyers?

  • Sharon

    Your list defies logic. No where in the list of categories can you account for the rankings you have determined — and the decision to use an average when a school does not report its (likely below average) test scores is baffling. You may have sold copies this year, but you have destroyed your credibility for years to come! Stick to ice cream and hair salons, Boston Magazine.

  • sharon

    When I moved to Sharon it was because it was in the top ten school districts. 9 years later and I am still happy that I am here. My kids are doing well and I am okay with being #11

  • Maureen

    I have two children. One attended Commonwealth School; the other attended Waring School. Both children were happy; worked very hard; did well, and were accepted in their first-choice colleges. Both are now employed, well-adjusted and creative adults. That’s what matters!
    I object to some of the off-handed comments expressed here. Waring School is certainly not a “glorified home school.” Very few homes could provide the level of study in literature, art, music, science, math and French provided there–short of hiring first-rate tutors in every field. At 24,000 dollars, it is a bargain. It is home-like in that the needs of each child in the community are the center of the Waring world.
    Those who comment should speak from first-hand knowledge, and not disparage schools other than their own because they disagree with the ratings. I do not agree with all the ratings either. However, some of the comments I’ve read here reveal the same lack of fairness that they criticize.

  • Mar

    Is this an all inclusive list? Roxbury Latin Academy & Fontbonne Academy are not on these lists, which is surprising to me. Is this the top 20 ranked in Mass. or are these the schools which participated in this study.

  • Toby

    Roxbury Latin should have been included in not only the top 20…but the top 5; it should have been rated much higher and everyone knows this; but Fontbonne Academy? Top 20? Seriously?

  • Nathaniel

    I’m a student at RL, and I’m happy for all the support of other posters who feel we deserved to be higher. It shows how little these rankings matter in terms of how people view a school. But, the reason RL did badly was they did not send in their SAT socres (which are consistently highest in the state), nor the number of kids on FA, also very high, especially considering their already low tuition. This accounted for 45% of one’s score. I don’t know how fair it is to say that the study is completely worthless because a school that didn’t submit information didn’t perform well.

  • Nathaniel

    The reason RL didn’t perform well was because they did not send in their SAT scores ( consistently highest in the state), nor the % of kids on FA, also very high. These two things accounted for 45% of one’s score. Now I go to RL, and I am flattered that people seem to regard my school highly, but I don’t know if it is fair to dismiss a study because a school that did not send in info performed poorly.

  • Matthew

    Fair and not fair. Argument for last year, this year and next year. Ask yourself. How come someone is on the top of this list, not you? How to make your school to the top of the list next year? I think these answer your question.

  • Matthew

    Like the lottory, you don’t buy, you won’t win. You need to know the rule of the game. Simple.

  • Madie

    Matthew and anonymous (Sept. 10)..your comments make no sense. Pelae clarify what you are trying to say.

  • Anonymous

    Roxbury Latin’s Class of 2009 sent almost a quarter of the school to the Ivy League last year, this is absurd..I have actually contacted BM and according to their head of research, RL refused to give key data (SAT’s Financial Aid for example) both would have moved into the top 5 of the list. Its just goes to show you what RL think’s of BM.

  • kirsten

    There is a wonderful mixture of private and public schools in the Boston area that afford students a myriad of opportunities. Unfortunately, it is impossible to fairly evaluate a school based on Boston Magazine’s limited data. Still, a greater feat is to find a school that fosters your child’s passions and independence while providing a supportive infrastructure. Yet, for our child, BUA is such a place. Students can explore their interests, not only at the high school level, but at a world class university while enjoying the close-knit support that so many high school kids need.

    Our daughter, a recent graduate of BUA, pursued applying to BUA because she wanted to be challenged in math. In fact, she was challenged in all disciplines. Now that she is a college freshman, all her hard work has paid off. She transferred 36 credits from BU, she is comfortable with the college routine, and she did college level research in a BU Nanotechnology lab for her BUA Senior Thesis- so she under

  • Carrie

    As a student of Commonwealth, I’m very proud to see Commonwealth at the top of the list and think it is absolutely well-deserved. Thirty-one students have gone on to Ivy League schools over the past five years, which is impressive considering we have an average class size of 35. Commonwealth is also the only school in Massachusetts recipient of Malone Scholars Program endowments. While I agree that the atmosphere of a school is also important to consider, Commonwealth offers both a welcoming, supportive and academically challenging environment and the facts to back it up. When I was a freshman, all the upperclassmen and teachers (even the ones I didn’t have) made a point of introducing themselves to me and engaging in friendly conversation. All my classes are small (which I consider to be a good thing) and very rigorous, and I can honestly say that I believe Commonwealth was appropriately ranked.

  • Matt

    The Dexter School for boys provides world-class facilities, outstanding value, and is a premier k-12 private school in Brookline, MA. It should have been listed.

  • Anonymous

    Roxbury Latin does not rate a top 10 position….or top 2 for that matter. Obviously not a well prepared article. Typical Boston Magizine rag article…more time spent on advertising pages than substantive articles. Boston Mag belongs just below Men’s Health on the news stands.

  • Rena

    Pursuant to other readers’ comments it is totally ridiculous that Roxbury Latin & BB&N are not on the list of top 10 private schools and that BLS ranks # 17 in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, in a recent national ranking, BLS came in 25 in the nation, well above any other Massachusetts schools.
    Perhpas ‘BOSTON’ magazine need to formally change it’s name to ‘METRO WEST MAGAZINE’, or actually, just bite the bullet and call it ‘WESTON MAGAZINE’ since those are obviously the readers and residents, or dare I say owners and editors who you consistently choose to stroke.

  • Anonymous

    As a BB&N student writing an article about these rankings, I’m wondering if any commenters would like to put their opinion to print. If so, please contact me at

  • Anonymous

    The 9/13/09 Boston Globe SAT survey of MA public schools shows that some schools that ranked high in Boston Magazine did not rank nearly as high on the 2009 SAT test. Top 10 in Globe survey are: 1.Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science 2. Lexington 3. Newton South 4. Acton-Boxborough 5. Weston 6.Bromfield School(Harvard) 7. Wellesley 8. Wayland 9. Concord-Carlisle 10. Lincoln-Sudbury

  • Anonymous

    I have to laugh when all of the private school people are aghast that Cambridge, Rindge and Latin School made the top 20 list. As a parent of two children that have gone through CRLS and the Cambridge Public Schools, I can assure you that I have never regretted our choice not to send
    them to send to private schools. Our children have received a fantastic, real world education. CRLS has amazing, gifted and dedicated teachers who effectively address a wide range of student needs and talents.
    I would love to see how well any of the private schools would do with a diverse population of students that they do not “cherry pick” or weed out because of socioeconomic status or learning disabilities. Boston Magazine should not even group private and public schools together. Private schools do not share the same challenges or strengths of the public schools,

  • jasmine


  • E

    The fact that readers care about a list derived from sat/mcas scores and class size shows how important rankings are to people no matter who puts them out. this magazine obviously did a garbage job at determining what matters in a school. why is everyone so offended by a garbage list? it is scary how competitive you freak parents are. I’m school shopping now for the future and I certainly don’t want my kid going to a school where they have to deal with kids raised by you parents staring at RANKINGS! Why not stare at your kids college essay and figure out what they want to do with their lives rather than what # they are on a list. Creepo!!!


    Let’s face it, parents in the know are aware of which private schools are better. I may be in the minority here because I feel it should have been broken down between day and boarding schools as well. But to put it in it’s perspective, academically speaking, the schools s/b ranked something like this: Andover, RL, Commonwealth, Winsor, Milton and then maybe Nobles and BB&N. This is basically the order many people assume. Having Montrose, which may be a perfectly repspectable school, that high seems silly to me. I think all of the other schools mentioned in the top 10 (other than the few I mentioned here) did not necessarily deserve to be ranked this high. There just seems to be too much subjectivity in this ranking “formula” and methodology. If you want to know the best Private schools, Boston Mag, ASK THE COMMUNITY! BB&N may not be RL or Andover, but Come on, their ranking is ridiculous! They offer a myriad of foreign languages, among other things…and one of your top 10 schools ONL

  • L

    Ok, here it is. I think of myself as a fairly well adjusted high school student; good grades, wonderful friends, hard-worker, excited for college. People, the success of an individual DOES NOT DEPEND ON WHAT HIGH SCHOOL YOU GO TO. Please, the prestige of their college doesn’t matter either. Honestly, some peoples’ obsession with brand name schools is sad and misguided. If you want your child to do well in life (and by that I mean to BE HAPPY) send them to a school they LIKE and will be WILLING TO WORK HARD AT. Its not about the name on your diploma, its about the life skills you learn there. Anybody can get a fabulous education without going to Harvard or Princeton or BB&N or RL. To parents who are ranking private schools by the percentage of kids who get into Ivy League’s; you are doing your child an extreme disservice. Get a grip. NOBODY will care what high school you go to once you get into college. And NOBODY at your future work places will care what college/university you attended

  • teacher

    To the last poster named “you all have to chill out”: Perhaps had you gone to one of the higher ranking schools, you would have been better able to construct a grammatically correct, coherent sentence.

  • Anishwa

    No one here has commented on how a school headmaster/mistress/principal makes a difference in all aspects of the school. This doesn’t just stop at academics; a good head will engage the students socially and set the social climate at the school. My daughter looked at one school mentioned here that had a reputation for strong and accelerated academics. Upon further investigation and familiarity, we eealized that it was all up to one person: the head of school. He had such a smug, arrogant and socially unaware attitude and demeanor, that we knew instantly that a sensitive girl, such as ours, would not stand a chance at this school. You can read the rankings here, but know that the adminstration at a private school, for better or for worse, sets the tone and tenor in all aspects. My advice is look at this ranking as only a small piece of a very large puzzle. My daughter is happy now at an accepting school that allows her to be an individual!

  • The Rev. James

    I write as an alumnus of Catholic Memorial High School–where I received a superb education–to observe that your methodology is seriosly flawed. Your rankings take no account of those many things not reflected in test scores, class size, and cost that contribute to a good education, especially during the high-school years. Where is the measure of character education,the teaching of values, discipline, and habits of mind in your calculus? How do you rank all of those intangibles that assist the formation of a human person fully considered, which, after all, are the real measure of the worth of an education? If SAT scores,the number of athletic teams, and the prestige of college acceptances are the measure of a school’s “value,” then you have really missed the mark.


    Haha, thank you teacher. I was quite upset when I wrote that response and my grammar is sadly lacking as a result. For example, I should have said, “People, the success of an individual DOES NOT DEPEND ON WHAT HIGH SCHOOL HE OR SHE GOES TO,” and “If you want your child to do well in life (and by that I mean to BE HAPPY) send him or her to a school that s/he LIKES and will be WILLING TO WORK HARD AT.” So, despite your pompous and obnoxious dig at my lack of English language skills, I restate my point with even greater conviction. I’m sorry that you were so distracted by my grammar that you were unable to absorb the message behind my tirade. I hope it is clearer to you now. Also, I do go to one of the highest ranked schools; public school in fact.

  • Jane

    My daughter went to Montrose for 2 years, chosen as its reputation for academics is excellent. Her courses were challenging, but the ‘nonsense’ that went on within that school by teachers and students and administrators was terrible. For a Catholic intsitution I will say I have never met such a group of “un-Christian” people in my life. We switched to a non-denominational school and the courses are equally challenging, the student population is more ‘real world’ but still low, and socially the school is wonderful. Oh yes, and no ‘nonsense’ with the admin or teachers.

  • Teacher

    To: “You all need to chill out!” Never, ever end a sentence in a preposition. This should have been taught you in elementary school. tsk tsk…you did it again!

  • ellen

    I am a parent who is a great supporter of public schools. However, last year my son got accepted to and is now attending a private school. He is being supported and appreciated in a way his former public school was never able to. There are so many different kinds of students in public schools, teachers struggle to get through to them all. Kids at the top of the class are allowed to rest on their laurels because administration doesn’t HAVE to worry about them. I want my son to work at school, not rest so everyone else can catch up. His being at private school has been the right decision for us and him.

  • mark

    A statistician at BB&N looked through the data on the private school chart and found that 1/2 of the information for BB&N was inaccurate. This is not sour grapes at being ranked 27th. The information from faculty-student ratio to college counselors per student is off. Where the statistician from Babson got his information is not clear. Curious, where the new ranking would be. The school paper at BB&N is writing an article on this situation.

  • shannon

    BB&N ISNT AS GOOD AS MOST ISL SCHOOLS GET OVER IT. i dont know why it was listed in the top schools in previous years.

  • Fred

    although i do not like BB&N as a rival ISL school, i would choose it over any public school. i go to private school and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I have attended both private and public school, and it was my decission to further my education at private school. This article is simply DUMB.

  • Michael

    Boston Latin getting it done with a student/teacher ratio in many cases doubling those of others on the list. Sumus Primi! All others please assume your places in line behind the Wolfpack. Thank you.

  • GAS

    As a BBN student, these rankings are insane. Not only does BB&N deserve to be in the top 10, it is also one of the few schools that does not coddle their students. Nobles babies their students; same with a lot of other schools. BBN has high quality education, gives great financial aid and does not have obnoxiously rich students who can buy their way in.

  • Claudette

    My son attends Cathedral on an academic scholarship and we are so pleased to see his school recognized for its academic standard of excellence.

  • Ted

    My child attends # 1 rated Weston HS and it has a mediocre super who is interested, in my opinion, in driving down standards. This schools will be in the bottom 10 in about 5 years’ time.These rankings are meaningless.

  • Eagles

    I’m going to have to jump on the bandwagon and agree that these rankings are an absolute sham.

    No respect for the fact that SJP and BCH are easily the best athletic programs on this list?

    And to Ms. Ann Marie.. BCH offers 23 honors and AP courses and I know that up to 4 are either scheduled to be added or are being considered. I can’t help but think that if you are complaining about the availability of honors classes, then your son must not have qualified for them.
    Don’t insult the school and our intelligence with your ludicrous claims that public schools can offer more courses, because we all know that that is simply untrue. The mentioning of the fact that your child is in the “90th + percentile” is vastly unnecesary. Almost as unnecesary as saying that I was in the 97th percentile on the HSPT and BCH is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

  • Eagles again

    Noticed that I misspelled “unnecessary” twice

  • Lindsay

    Just wanted to point out the new change in rankings… BB&N is number 5!!!

  • Mia

    As a parent that is new to the private school scene, I am amazed at how defensive and righteously indignant RL parents are when it comes to rankings and comparisons with Belmont Hill. Perhaps it is time to wake up and realize that success is more than scores and college admissions. Other schools may just be as good or better than yours and that is ok. Broaden your horizons!

  • JB

    It’s an EXAM school stupid! The reason why Boston Latin and these others “publics” are down the list is simply that. How can you fairly compare “public” schools with strict entrance requirements to those that perform and MUST take anyone who lives in that town.

  • Anonymous

    (1) Teacher pupil ratios in public schools are misleading due to high number of teachers serving small number of children in special ed. (2)To “You all need to chill out”, I completely agree your vision on what should matter in life and how life should work. Sadly enough, it often isn’t the reality in the corporate world. What school you went to does matter, surprsingly even after you establish yourself in the corporate world. This appears to be more so in East Coast than the West Coast.

  • WJ

    I am a graduate of Roxbury Latin School and have been guilty of chest puffing over the ranking of the school vis a vis Harvard acceptances and SAT scores. The churlish reactions to RL’s ranking are evidence of a kind of illness that we of the private schools have been afflicted. Why must we continually look to rankings and ratings to make us feel good about ourselves? What cavernous void are we trying to fill with all this sickening complaining?

    Those that know don’t tell. Those that tell don’t know.

  • WJ

    I am a graduate of Roxbury Latin School and have been guilty of chest puffing over the ranking of the school vis a vis Harvard acceptances and SAT scores. The churlish reactions to RL’s ranking are evidence of a kind of illness that we of the private schools have been afflicted. Why must we continually look to rankings and ratings to make us feel good about ourselves? What cavernous void are we trying to fill with all this sickening complaining?

    Those that know don’t tell. Those that tell don’t know.

  • WJ

    I am a graduate of Roxbury Latin School and have been guilty of chest puffing over the ranking of the school vis a vis Harvard acceptances and SAT scores. The churlish reactions to RL’s ranking are evidence of a kind of illness that we of the private schools have been afflicted. Why must we continually look to rankings and ratings to make us feel good about ourselves? What cavernous void are we trying to fill with all this sickening complaining?

    Those that know don’t tell. Those that tell don’t know.

  • Susan

    So sick of BUA admissions reps and a handful of pushy, over-achieving parents come on these sites saying the same regurgitated ‘lines’ and marketing spiel provided to us by administration about how “unique” BUA is. BUA looks good on paper only. In practice, it is much different. It has a very weak, ineffective administration. BUA’s best days are behind. ASK ANYONE! End of story.

  • Susan

    So sick of BUA admissions reps and a handful of pushy, over-achieving parents come on these sites saying the same regurgitated ‘lines’ and marketing spiel provided to us by administration about how “unique” BUA is. BUA looks good on paper only. In practice, it is much different. It has a very weak, ineffective administration. BUA’s best days are behind. ASK ANYONE! End of story.

  • hybrid

    Thanks a lot giving the information on best schools. The private schools for kids also good for the students who want to study by experienced teaching staff. Your article is very good and I found lots of information from her about various high schools.