Boston’s Best Schools 2012

Our exclusive ranking of the region’s top 50 high schools.

Boston Best Schools 2012

Photo by Scott M. Lacey

Once again, we spent the summer compiling our annual in-depth survey of Boston’s best schools. With a focus on public high schools this year, we dug through countless databases from the Massachusetts Department of ?Elementary and Secondary Education. We called (and called and called) more than 200 high schools in the area (as usual, we confined our analysis to cities and towns inside I-495) to determine graduation rates, student-teacher ratios, number of extracurriculars, and so on. And then we crunched the numbers to come up with our proprietary ranking.

Since there’s no one measure to rate the quality of a high school, we used a formula that incorporates 13 different data points. We gave the most weight to academics, including performance on the MCAS, the SATs, and AP exams, because a school’s first priority is a proper education. We also factored in both graduation rates and the percentage of students who go to college. This year, we dialed back—slightly—the importance placed on student-teacher ratio and per-pupil spending, because while they do contribute to learning, recent studies show that they’re not educational silver bullets. Finally, we considered the number of sports and clubs offered, since extracurricular activities are essential to teaching teamwork and leadership. They also look good on college applications.

We’ve built an online tool that lets you sort through the data on all the Boston schools. That way, you can evaluate the categories you find most important—academic or otherwise.

Boston 50 Best Schools

All Boston Schools
Browse more than 200 Boston schools in our sortable charts.

50 Best Schools Boston

Top of the Class
A look at the best-performing schools in a few select categories.

Boston Best Schools

School’s Out Forever
The new online program edX may be a college game-changer.

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Top 50 Best Schools
Check out our top 50 ranking for Boston’s best high schools.

9/6/2012: Due to a reporter error, North Reading High was omitted from our initial Top 50 rankings.

9/6/2012: We added data to our chart for North Reading High, Mary Lyon Pilot, and Greater Lowell Regional Vocational Technical.


  • Lou S

    Looking over the top schools and I did notice that North Reading is not on the list. Is that a over site? They are always a top 50 school, but to not even make the list. Could you explain as to why?

  • Keith

    Your list of 222 schools contains four duplicates… Whitman-Hanson, Pentucket, Apponequet, and Manchester-Essex.

  • Michelle

    I would like to know whether this data entirely omits special education student population, or just some of the data omits this population..because there is currently no tracking of the rate or percentage of special education students going to college in Massachusetts at all.

  • John

    “(as usual, we confined our analysis to cities and towns inside I-495)”

    Algonquin #24 is not located inside I-495.

  • Amy

    I am curious why Littleton was included, but not Groton/Dunstable?

  • admin

    Hello all:

    We only included towns and school districts within the I-495 border. Algonquin Regional High School is part of the Northborough-Southborough School District; while Northborough is outside of I-495, Southborough is inside the border, so we included the entire district. The town of Littleton, meanwhile, is split down the middle by I-495, so we included it in our data. Groton-Dunstable, however, is outside of that border, so it was not included.


    • Andy

      Go onto Milford Daily News and research Medway Officials Happy With MCAS Scores article. There you will find accurate information on Medway.

    • Tom

      Why was Nashoba Regional High School not included? The town of Stow is completely within the 495 border.

    • Brooke

      Westborough?? you’ve included before

      • admin

        The town of Westborough is outside of I-495, so they were not included in our rankings this year or last year.

  • Darren

    Do you ever rank private high schools?

  • Guest

    do u suck dick

  • Smug

    What about this school? What about that school? Why wasn’t OUR school included? CAN IT cry babies, your beloved child will grow up and be just fine. Were you going to move anyway? Doubt it.

  • JW in Upton

    I love that you include a beautiful chart showing WHY you rank the high schools as you do. How can I find similar stats for a school just outside the region you covered, Nipmuc Regional HS in Upton, MA?

  • Andy

    I too am curious about Medway being on the list last year and not even making the top 50. According to the superintendent we believe that Medway should have ranked the same if not higher. The test scores have not dropped and are in fact higher than many of the schools on the list. Unfortunately, this ranking is pretty subjective

  • Russ

    Subjective? Let’s just go with the research that’s been done if we can only point to problems without providing suggested solutions.

  • Andy

    Yes subjective as stated

  • MDS

    Hi Michelle,

    I get the sense from your comment that you already know that special ed isn’t followed well, so at the risk of telling you what you already know, don’t expect top schools to be any good at special-ed. The following article on Weston’s failures in this regard should serve as a cautionary tale for any parents of a special needs child in an affluent town where you’d expect them to do better.