Best Schools in Boston 2013

From class size to MCAS scores, we crunch the numbers on the top cities and towns within Greater Boston.

best schools

Ranking: The Best Schools in Boston

To assemble this year’s Best Schools list, we spent months compiling numbers—released by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education—from 147 municipalities in Greater Boston. Here, we present a sortable tool of the cities and towns with the very best schools.


PHOTOGRAPHS BY TRENT BELL / Above typography by Erik Marinovich

A Tale of Two Schools

In a struggling neighborhood filled with kids from struggling families, two of the city’s worst-performing schools are on diverging paths. Orchard Gardens, the turnaround success, gets all the press. The Higginson/Lewis gets whatever’s left over.


best schools

Photograph by Elliott Erwitt / Magnum

Top of the Class

A look at the best-performing high schools in a few select categories.

Highest Percentage of Students Achieving Proficiency (Scoring 3–5) on AP Exams
1. Acton-Boxborough 96.9
2. Concord-Carlisle 96.4
3. Lexington 96.1
4. Dover-Sherborn 96.0
5. Sharon 95.7

Highest Overall SAT Score
1. Wellesley 1885
2. Acton-Boxborough 1873
3. Lexington 1866
4. Weston 1853
5. Dover-Sherborn 1819

Highest Percentage of Students Going to College
1. Westford 92.5
2. Berlin-Boylston 92.5
3. Dover-Sherborn 91.6
4. Medfield 91.5
5. Hanover 91.4

Highest Graduation Rate
1. Medfield 99.1
2. Foxborough 99.0
3. Cohasset 98.9
4. Westford 98.5
5. Wellesley 98.3

  • Westfordinsider

    Westford schools ranked in the top 5 percent, teachers compensated in the bottom third! Sounds like a real great deal for residents and real raw deal for teachers. Guess we begin to understand the exodus out of staff, retention gonna be a bigger issue the more the gap grows. David Keele believes our quality schools drive real estate but doesn’t believe in honoring younger teachers steps. We love our top ranking TILL it comes time to discuss pay…..

  • Ann Gates

    hey where s’ dot southie and roxbury?? jk. money makes the world go round for the chosen.

  • KF

    I wish Boston Magazine would explain why it puts such a high weight on inputs rather than outputs (class size, per pupil spending). Sure, these can be important factors but do they really indicate what makes for a good school? Obviously smaller districts will have smaller class sizes and spend more per pupil since each high school must have at least one English teacher, math teacher, etc. But meanwhile the same district may be achieving poor results. Acton Boxborough achieves some of the highest test scores (ranked #1 and #2), yet it is ranked outside if the overall top ten. Shouldn’t this district be praised for such high test scores despite spending less?

    • Metrowst76

      Yes, and Weston is a good example of this. They have the highest per pupil expenditure, Wealthiest town in the state, but their class size is much higher than average (23), when similar towns have 17-18. Their test scores are disappointing for a town purports to spend so much money on each pupil. I assume they have no school committee to keep things in check. Inflated teacher salaries and weak administration must be the problem. Better schools like Sharon and Brookline are rated below Weston which doesn’t make sense!

  • Diana

    I am sorry but I am looking for Boston Public Schools and as of right now I don’t think those are not Boston Public Schools!

    • John

      That’s why they are good schools!

  • JN

    Look at property values in declining school districts like Weston and you’ll quickly realize that as far as public education, you don’t get what you pay for. In reference to a comment below, Weston is a great deal for teachers and a raw deal for students when compared to a school district such as Westford.