U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of the nation's best public high schools show a few surprises among local charter schools, which compete fiercely to attract and retain students.
One Colorado Springs high school has made the state's top-10 list for the first time. Another has retained a high standing, while a third has fallen out of the state's top 10, according to 2016 rankings released Tuesday.
The Vanguard School, a charter high school in Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, is sixth best in Colorado, down from second in 2015.
The Classical Academy, in Academy School District 20, made the top-10 list for the first time, ranking 10th best in the state. Last year, it ranked 16th statewide. In previous years, it was not ranked.
James Irwin Charter Academy High School, in Harrison School District 2, placed 11th in Colorado this year, down from eighth last year.
All three are charter schools, so they receive public funding and do not charge tuition but have more leeway with governance, curriculum and programming than traditional public schools.
They earned gold medal standings under the U.S. News system, meaning they are among the top 500 high schools in the nation in terms of college readiness.
A total of 28,561 public schools were reviewed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Some were determined to be too small to participate, which whittled the list down to 19,908.
U.S. News compares schools' scores on state assessments, graduation rates, teacher-to-student ratios, percentage of students that took Advanced Placement tests and percentage of students that passed the tests. Schools also must be determined to be serving all of their students well.
Local schools earning silver awards - indicating they are top performers but show lower college readiness than the gold winners - were Palmer Ridge High, which placed 21st in the state; Lewis-Palmer High, 22nd statewide; Cheyenne Mountain High School, which ranked 29th; Discovery Canyon Campus, which came in 31st; Pine Creek High, ranking 34th; and Air Academy High, in 38th place statewide. There were 2,173 silver medalists nationwide.
An additional 3,545 high schools were awarded bronze medals. Those schools either do not offer AP or International Baccaleaureate courses or had lower college readiness than silver qualifiers.
Nationally, The Vanguard School ranked 217, out of 2,673 high schools to earn gold and silver medals, and 64th-best in the nation out of 248 charter schools.
Colorado's top-ranking high school is Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette.
The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas took the No. 1 spot in the national rankings for the fifth straight year. High Technology High School in Lincroft, N.J., is once again the nation's best STEM school.
Along with 2016 Best High Schools, U.S. News also released Best Charter Schools, Best Magnet Schools and individual statewide rankings.
To see the high school results, go to usnews.com.