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These are the best public high schools in California, according to Niche

This 2013 file photo shows the outside of Saratoga High School. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

As filmmaker and writer Nora Ephron said during a 1996 commencement address at Wellesley College, “Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” If that’s the case, high school may be one of the greatest dress rehearsals of all.

It’s a place where students explore their interests, dive into extracurricular activities, finally get the freedom to choose their own classes and prepare for college or the workplace. For many of these students and their families, public education is key: 48.1 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in 2020; and there are almost 24,000 public high schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

For many anxious parents, getting their child into the best of these public high schools is of the utmost importance. Some families even move homes to get into better school districts. However, among all of these thousands of schools, a few stand out for their academic excellence, incredible track records, and the future success of their young students.

Stacker compiled a list of the best public high schools in California using rankings from Niche. Here’s how it breaks down: Niche uses eight factors for its rankings, with each factor given a different weight. A whopping 60% of the score is based on academics and grades, which is calculated using state assessment proficiency tests, SAT/ACT scores, and survey responses. From there, culture and diversity, parent and student surveys on their overall experiences, and teachers each contribute to 10% of the score. Finally, scores for each school’s clubs and activities, health and safety, resources and facilities, and sports constitute 2.5% each.

Find out which public high schools are the best in your state by reading the list below.

23. University High School

22. Westview High School

21. Campolindo High School

20. Mt. Everest Academy

19. Mountain View High School

18. Carmel High School

17. Lowell High School

16. Academy of the Canyons

15. Whitney High School

14. Los Altos High School

13. Northwood High School

12. Lynbrook High School

11. La Canada High School

10. University High School

9. Torrey Pines High School

8. Palos Verdes Peninsula High School

7. Orange County School of the Arts

6. Troy High School

5. Palo Alto High School

4. California Academy of Mathematics & Science

3. Saratoga High School

– School district: Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District
– Enrollment: 1,368 (20:1 student to teacher ratio)
– Niche grade: A+

2. Canyon Crest Academy

1. Henry M. Gunn High School