Best Public High Schools in California

If you live in California and have teenage children then you may be assuming that your children must attend a high school nearest to your home. However, California does have laws allowing both intradistrict and interdistrict student transfers. For example, your children are eligible to attend high school in the district where you work, if your home district is deemed unsuitable for some reason. You may also choose to transfer your children to a different high school within your home district, if you feel that the educational standards of the current school are too low. Regardless of the circumstances that are causing you to look for a new high school for your children, identifying the best California high school for them will require you to first identify your family’s educational priorities. Below are tips to help you identify excellent CA high schools which will meet the needs of your children.

Familiarize Yourself with California Public High School Academic Standards and Ratings

In order to identify the top high schools in California, you must understand how California’s academic rating system works. You can request various types of academic data from the California Department of Education on a specific high school. The available data includes average test scores and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) results for each high school. However, AYP results focus only on English and math test results.

Once you understand how California’s academic rankings work, you can view lists of top schools to identify the high schools in your area with the best academic ratings. For example, Lowell High School in the San Francisco Unified School District received the distinction of being included in the 2017 U.S. News and World Report list of top high schools not only in California, but also in the United States as a whole.

Inquire About California Public High School Extracurricular and Afterschool Programs

Academic standing is important, but you should also consider extracurricular programs when selecting a high school for your children, especially if any of your children have developed interests in particular activities such as sports, acting classes, or musical studies. Afterschool programs and groups, such as chess and A/V club, may also help your children to further their education in the fields that interest them.

Also check to see if the California high school you are considering offers an afterschool peer tutoring program. Your children can benefit from the extra assistance such programs provide if they struggle in school. If they are particularly gifted in certain subjects then they can use their knowledge to help their peers by applying to become peer tutors.

Check on the Teaching Styles at Various California Public High Schools

California public high schools must all adhere to the same list of basic requirements, but the way in which information is conveyed to students varies greatly from one school to the next. When you are looking for a high school for your children make sure that the teaching styles used in the school line up with the needs of your children. For example, children who learn best by doing might prefer schools where hands-on experiments are encouraged. Children who learn best by reading and memorizing may prefer schools where lessons are primarily given in the form of lectures.

Select Schools Which Suit the Personalities and Social Needs of Your Children

Your children will spend four years of their lives in the high school you select. Therefore, it is important for them to be socially comfortable in the environment. Introverted teens may prefer smaller schools, but extroverted teens may feel more comfortable among larger crowds. For that reason, if you have multiple children with very different personalities, you may find it beneficial to send them to separate schools. Likewise, parents of children close in age may consider separate schools so they can establish their own identities. Children may also favor the location where their middle and elementary friends are enrolling.

Visit the California Public High Schools on Your Short List

California public high schools are required by law to allow you to visit them to inspect the facilities, ask questions and gain an understanding of what your children will be doing during each school day. Exercise that right by calling each of the public high schools on your short list to schedule tours before you make a final decision. If possible, bring your kids with you on the school tours and allow them to ask questions as well.

Compare Your Choices to Lists of Top California Public High Schools

Once you have narrowed your California public high school options down to a list of three or four schools, compare them to various lists of top California schools. Every list ranks California’s high schools according to different criteria, such as test scores or parental reviews. For example, School Digger lists Piedmont High in the top 10 California high schools based on 2015 – 2016 academic test results. It rose to position seven from position 16, which it held during the previous school year.

Make sure that the list you are viewing of top California high schools uses the criteria you want. Then match those criteria against your short list of schools. Finally, discuss the results with your children. Your children will be much happier if they have some input regarding the final decision of which high school they will be attending.