When it comes to public education, Maryland has long been a standout, with several of its high schools consistently ranking among the top in the nation. This level of academic excellence draws families from across the country and around the world to enroll their teens in Maryland’s impressive public schools. Let’s take a look at some of the highest achieving public high schools across the state and what makes them so successful.
Introduction to Maryland’s Nationally Ranked High Schools
As a Maryland resident and parent myself, I’ve had the privilege of visiting many of the state’s exemplary public high schools over the years. While each has its own unique culture and strengths, they share a commitment to nurturing students’ intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skills, and passion for learning.
School administrators and teachers work closely with families to provide the resources and environment where students can thrive. From advanced STEM programs to award-winning arts and humanities, these schools offer dynamic curriculums taught by talented faculty.
Students are encouraged to challenge themselves academically and pursue subjects they feel truly engaged in. There are ample opportunities to participate in academic competitions, conduct independent research, lead clubs, play sports, and engage with the local community.
The focus is on developing well-rounded individuals equipped for college and beyond. As a result, many of Maryland’s top-tier high schools have become feeder schools for the nation’s most selective universities.
While statewide standardized test scores like PARCC provide one snapshot of student achievement, other factors like graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, and placement in advanced courses also distinguish these standout schools. Here’s a closer look at some of Maryland’s highest performing public high schools and why they have become leaders in secondary education.
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute – A Leader in STEM Education
With its rigorous math, science, and technology focus, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly) attracts some of the state’s top STEM students. The public college prep high school uses selective admissions criteria, requiring middle school students to meet high benchmarks in math and English Language Arts assessments.
Poly students conduct advanced research and problem-solving in fields like engineering, computer science, and biotechnology. The school places heavy emphasis on critical thinking, leadership, and civic responsibility.
Nearly 100% of graduates go on to attend four-year colleges and universities, gaining acceptance to prestigious programs like MIT and the University of Maryland College Park. Poly’s accomplished alumni include NASA scientists, pioneers in engineering and technology, and former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Montgomery Blair High School – A Tradition of Academic Excellence
Consistently ranked among the top high schools in the U.S. by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, Montgomery Blair High School sets the bar for academic achievement in Maryland. Blair students average SAT scores of over 1400 out of 1600, significantly higher than state and national averages.
The school offers more than a dozen Advanced Placement courses and has one of the largest math/science magnet programs in the country. Teachers engage students with innovative lessons and real-world applications of course material.
Blair fosters independent research, with students competing and winning top honors at science fairs and academic conferences across the state and country. The school’s STEM programs, performing arts, and diverse student community have made it a model for excellence in public education.
Winston Churchill High School – A Leader in the Arts
Located in the affluent Montgomery County suburb of Potomac, Winston Churchill High School excels in both academics and the arts. Churchill draws students from across the region to its acclaimed theatre, music, dance, and visual arts programs.
Students regularly earn perfect scores on AP Art exams and have displayed their work at the U.S. Department of Education. Churchill’s wind ensemble and jazz band have performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
In addition to the arts, Churchill offers a broad selection of AP courses and has a graduation rate over 97%. The school community fosters creativity, inclusiveness, and civic awareness to develop students who make meaningful contributions to society.
Centennial High School – Innovative STEM Programming
Centennial High School in Ellicott City stands out for its STEM-focused learning environment. The school runs exemplary Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs to equip students with 21st century skills.
Centennial’s Engineering Innovation lab gives students hands-on experience solving real-world challenges. The school also offers top-level bio-medical sciences and technology coursework, allowing students to conduct advanced experiments and research.
With over a dozen AP course offerings, students pursue subjects like neuroscience, organic chemistry, and multivariate calculus. Nearly 100% of Centennial students continue to four-year college programs after graduation.
Poolesville High School – Small Town School with Big Achievements
Located in a rural farming community, Poolesville High School offers close-knit class sizes where students receive individualized attention. Despite its small size, Poolesville delivers top-tier academics that rival much larger public schools.
Poolesville students consistently earn perfect scores on AP exams across a broad range of subjects. Nearly all students pursue higher education and gain acceptance to selective colleges. The school fosters civic involvement through community service programs.
Poolesville teams excel in sports from cross country to volleyball. The school’s STEM programs, student-led clubs, and tight-knit community make it a model small public high school.
While not exhaustive, this overview shows why Maryland high schools like Poly, Blair, Churchill, Centennial, and Poolesville have earned national recognition. They demonstrate what makes Maryland a leader in public secondary education in the U.S.
From rigorous academics to inspiring arts programs, Maryland’s top-ranked high schools develop students ready to make meaningful contributions to the world. As a Maryland resident, I take pride in our state’s educational excellence that provides students boundless opportunities to learn, grow, and achieve their dreams.
When examining the top high schools in Maryland, one standout is Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, known for its intense focus on math and science. As a STEM-centered public magnet school, Baltimore Polytech (or just “Poly” as students call it) attracts some of the brightest young minds in the state eager to immerse themselves in advanced science and technology.
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute – A Magnet for Math and Science Excellence
Walking the halls of Poly, you immediately get a sense of the school’s science and tech-focused culture. Student-designed robots line the lobby, complex equations and formulas cover classroom whiteboards, and students buzz with enthusiasm about their latest coding or engineering projects.
Poly’s selective admissions process requires incoming students to have excellent middle school grades, especially in algebra and other advanced math coursework. This ensures students are prepared for the school’s rigorous STEM-intensive curriculum.
The school is equipped with state-of-the-art labs and technology where students tackle real-world problems. In a recent biomedical engineering class, students developed prototype medical devices to improve rehabilitation treatment for stroke patients. The projects were so innovative several are now being evaluated for patenting.
Poly students also compete and excel in national science fairs and tech competitions. Last year, a team of junior programmers took first place at the Congressional App Challenge for an app aimed at improving access to mental healthcare for teenagers.
With plunging graduation rates and college acceptance to elite programs like Caltech and MIT, it’s no wonder Baltimore Polytechnic Institute has become a magnet school for youth STEM talent in Maryland and beyond.
The culture of academic rigor, innovation, and intellectual curiosity at Poly prepares students to become tomorrow’s leaders in science, engineering, and technology. Walking the halls, you can feel the palpable excitement of young minds tackling big ideas that will shape the future.
Other Maryland high schools may offer strong STEM programs, but none match the depth and intensity of Poly’s focus. For young people with a passion for math and science, Poly provides an unparalleled environment to challenge themselves among like-minded peers under the guidance of expert faculty.
Poly’s STEM-intensity may not be the right fit for everyone, but for those who thrive on tackling complex equations, designing robotics, and pushing intellectual boundaries, the school lives up to its reputation as a national leader in science and technology education.
It’s no wonder many Poly alumni go on to become pioneers in their STEM fields, crediting the school for sparking their intellectual curiosity and equipping them with the problem-solving skills to achieve greatness. For Maryland students with big tech and science dreams, Poly remains a top choice to turn those aspirations into reality.
When reviewing the top tier high schools in Maryland, Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring stands out for its exceptional SAT scores and overall academic excellence. Blair, as students affectionately call it, has become an academic powerhouse known for churning out some of the state’s highest achieving graduates.
Montgomery Blair High School – Sky-High SAT Scores and Ivy League Placements
Walk the halls at Montgomery Blair and you’ll quickly notice it’s not your typical public high school. College pennants line the walls from schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other elite universities where Blair grads matriculate each year.
Blair students average SAT scores over 1400 out of 1600, dramatically higher than state and national averages. It’s normal to hear students chatting about scoring a perfect 800 on their SAT math or verbal sections.
How does Blair cultivate such exemplary academic talent? For starters, the school attracts gifted students from across Montgomery County through a selective magnet program. Teachers have advanced degrees, often PhDs, and take an innovative approach to instruction.
The curriculum is infused with AP courses, college-level offerings in subjects ranging from physics to macroeconomics. Students conduct graduate-level research across scientific disciplines and compete in national academic tournaments.
Walk into the guidance office and you’ll see binders brimming with acceptance letters from the Ivies and other elite institutions. Last year’s graduates matriculated to MIT, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley, UPenn, and other top programs.
For students with scholarly ambitions, Montgomery Blair provides an academic hothouse to nurture their full potential. The culture of excellence and achievement permeates all aspects of student life.
While Blair attracts bookish types devoted to their studies, students also find ways to blow off steam through clubs, musical ensembles, and other creative outlets.
At the end of the day, however, academics take priority. Parents, teachers, and students share the mindset that with hard work and determination, no academic goal is out of reach. This rising tide lifts all boats, empowering Blair students to hit stratospheric SAT scores and earn coveted acceptances each year.
There are many excellent public schools in Maryland, but none quite match Montgomery Blair’s track record of turning out Ivy League scholars ready to excel at the nation’s most elite universities. For top-tier students seeking a peer group and environment where the sky’s the limit, Montgomery Blair remains a top choice.
When considering top public high schools in Maryland, Winston Churchill High School in Potomac stands out as a leader in arts education. Churchill’s exceptional performing arts, visual arts, and music programs have made it a magnet for talented young artists from across the region.
Winston Churchill High School – Where Creativity Shines Bright
Step into the halls of Churchill High and you’ll quickly absorb the school’s vibrant artistic culture. Student paintings, photos, and sketches cover the walls while music resonates from practice rooms.
Churchill runs acclaimed programs in studio art, photography, orchestra, band, choir, theater, and dance that rival many colleges. Students regularly earn perfect scores on AP Art exams and have displayed their creations at prestigious venues like the U.S. Department of Education.
The school’s jazz ensemble and wind symphony have performed internationally from Sydney to Beijing. Meanwhile, Churchill’s theater program stages elaborate musical productions in the school’s state-of-the-art auditorium.
For young people with artistic talents and aspirations, Churchill provides an environment where creativity flourishes. Students build robust portfolios and benefit from masterclasses with visiting artists that have included Broadway performers, New Yorker cartoonists, and Kennedy Center choreographers.
While excellence in the arts takes center stage, Churchill also offers 20+ AP courses ensuring students receive top-tier academic preparation. Graduates earn acceptances each year to elite arts programs like Juilliard, NYU Tisch, and CalArts.
Churchill’s arts programming combined with strong academics makes it one of Maryland’s most sought after public high schools. Students come from across Montgomery County and beyond, drawn to Churchill’s culture of creativity and limitless opportunities to develop their talents.
The school pairs artistic freedom with discipline. Students learn time management balancing hours of music practice, theater rehearsals, AP homework, and club activities. They emerge extraordinarily well-prepared for the demands of higher education and creative careers.
Churchill’s vibrant arts scene combined with a challenging yet supportive environment empowers students to achieve their full potential. For Maryland teens seeking a high school where creativity and self-expression are truly nurtured, Churchill remains a top destination of choice.
The arts are sometimes treated as secondary in education, but Churchill High recognizes their unique power to inspire. By giving artistic students space to spread their wings creatively, the school cultivates talent that enriches our communities and world.
When looking at the highest performing public high schools in Maryland, Centennial High School in Ellicott City is a standout for its exemplary STEM programming. With a focus on excellence in science, technology, engineering and math, Centennial equips students with 21st century skills to excel in our innovation economy.
Centennial High School – Where STEM Talent Takes Flight
Walking the halls at Centennial High, you quickly absorb the school’s STEM-focused culture. Students chat enthusiastically about complex engineering projects, advanced genetic research, and the latest in biotech innovations.
Centennial runs an Engineering Innovation lab where students tackle real-world challenges like designing sustainable housing solutions and developing new medical technologies. The hands-on, collaborative projects foster critical thinking and problem solving.
The school also offers specialized coursework in biomedical engineering, aerospace engineering, neuroscience, organic chemistry, and more. Students have access to cutting-edge lab equipment to conduct graduate-level research.
Centennial teams compete successfully in national STEM competitions including the NASA Hunch Challenge, MIT Blueprint Challenge, and Siemens Competition in math, science and technology.
With over a dozen AP STEM course offerings and a 100% graduation rate, Centennial creates a rich learning ecosystem where young scientists and innovators thrive. The school has become a magnet for STEM talent in Howard County.
While STEM dominates, Centennial also offers arts, humanities and language programs for a well-rounded education. Students emerge exceptionally prepared for elite college engineering programs and STEM careers.
For youth interested in tackling real-world problems through science and technology, Centennial provides an ideal environment. Under the guidance of expert faculty, students are empowered to push intellectual boundaries in our rapidly changing innovation economy.
Maryland is home to many great high schools, but Centennial stands apart for its unparalleled STEM opportunities. The school ignites passions for discovery and problem-solving that serve students well in higher education and STEM fields vital to our future.
When reviewing top public high schools in Maryland, Poolesville High School offers a unique small-town environment while delivering big results academically. Nestled in a rural farming community, Poolesville provides close-knit class sizes and individualized attention that allow students to thrive.
Poolesville High School – Small-Town Charm, Big-Time Achievement
Step into Poolesville High School and you’ll discover a tight-knit community where teachers know every student by name. With under 1,000 students, Poolesville offers an intimate setting focused on nurturing the whole child.
Don’t let the cozy small town feel fool you – Poolesville consistently ranks among the top tier high schools in Maryland for academic performance. Nearly all students pursue higher education, gaining acceptance to selective colleges year after year.
How does this small public school deliver such outsized results? Dedicated teachers work closely with students to challenge them individually. Advanced courses across the curriculum ensure Poolesville students are prepared to excel at top universities.
The individualized approach pays off with Poolesville students earning perfect scores on AP exams in English, calculus, physics, and history. For students seeking a personalized pathway to academic success, Poolesville is a prime choice.
Beyond academics, the school emphasizes community service, leadership, and civic responsibility. Students give back through organizations like the Poolesville Area Senior Center while pursuing their own passions through diverse clubs and activities.
This potent combination of community connections and top-tier college preparatory academics makes Poolesville an exceptional small town public school. Families seeking a warm, nurturing learning environment where students can stand out academically have found the perfect fit in Poolesville.
The school proves that sometimes the best education happens in intimate settings beyond the bustle of big cities. For Maryland families seeking a close-knit high school experience anchored in tradition yet focused on the future, Poolesville delivers in spades.
When examining the highest performing public high schools in Maryland, River Hill High School in Clarksville stands out for its exceptional sports programs nurturing top student-athletes. For teens seeking a balance of academic rigor and athletic achievement, River Hill delivers.
River Hill High School – Where Champions are Made
Step into River Hill High School and you immediately absorb the vibrant sports culture. Banners celebrating regional championships line the walls while varsity athletes walk the halls proudly sporting team jackets.
River Hill runs first-class athletic programs recognized for excellence statewide. The Hawks have won multiple state titles in football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, volleyball and more.
Beyond winning, River Hill emphasizes character development and community leadership through athletics. Coaches mentor students on self-discipline, teamwork and integrity that translate beyond the playing field.
River Hill combines athletic prowess with top-tier academics. With a broad selection of AP courses and 100% graduation rate, students receive a first-class education. Honors and varsity student-athletes learn formidable time management juggling practices, games and meets with homework and exams.
College admissions officers take note of River Hill’s reputation for cultivating scholar-athletes. Graduates earn athletic scholarships each year to top NCAA Division I programs across the country.
For Maryland families seeking a high school where students can excel athletically without compromising academics, River Hill delivers. The school’s supportive yet competitive environment empowers teens to accomplish great things on and off the field.
River Hill recognizes that sports cultivate critical life skills prized by universities and employers like leadership, responsibility, and poise under pressure. Athletics are part of a holistic education nurturing character and achievement from the classroom to the court.
Maryland boasts many excellent high schools, but few achieve River Hill’s pinnacle of balancing academic, athletic and personal excellence. For teens striving to reach the top of their game in sports and life, River Hill empowers them to score big.
Wootton High School – diverse student body
When it comes to the best high schools in Maryland, Wootton High School in Rockville often tops the list. This prestigious public high school boasts a diverse student body of over 2,300 students from a wide range of backgrounds. What makes Wootton stand out is its commitment to nurturing the unique talents and perspectives each student brings.
With a student body speaking over 50 languages at home, Wootton fosters an environment of inclusiveness and cross-cultural understanding. Students learn as much from their peers as they do from their teachers. Walking down the halls, you may hear snippets of conversation in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Hindi, Korean and many more. This rich tapestry of languages and cultures is a point of pride at Wootton.
In addition to ethnic diversity, Wootton attracts students from all over Montgomery County. From urban Silver Spring to suburban Potomac, students commute from over 20 middle schools to attend Wootton. This geographic diversity ensures students encounter new viewpoints and experiences. Students connect across divides of neighborhood, income, race and religion. Lifelong friendships are forged through sports, clubs, musicals and challenging AP classes.
With over 85 academic and extracurricular clubs, Wootton encourages students to pursue their passions. Anime Club, Debate Team, Future Business Leaders of America, It’s Academic, Math Team, Robotics, Science Bowl – the list goes on. Students find their people and push themselves in areas of interest. Collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills are honed.
Wootton administrators and teachers nurture this diverse student body through data-driven instruction, stellar STEM programs, abundant AP course offerings, and initiatives like the Signature Program. This program provides practical experiences in various career fields to equip students for college and beyond. Partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits and government agencies give students real-world experience.
The diversity of perspectives and life experiences at Wootton High School creates an unparalleled educational experience. Students graduate not just with top grades and test scores, but with the ability to understand and bridge divides. They carry an expanded worldview, empathy for those different from themselves, and confidence to interact across cultures. Wootton’s commitment to nurturing all students is what makes it shine.
Top-Ranked High Schools in Maryland in 2023: How Do They Stack Up Against the Rest?
Every year, there is much discussion and debate over which are the top high schools in Maryland. Public school rankings are hotly contested, with parents and communities taking great pride in their local institutions. So how do you determine which Maryland high schools truly stand out from the pack?
One of the most well-respected and comprehensive rankings comes from U.S. News and World Report. Their annual Best High Schools list utilizes performance on state assessments, graduation rates and how well schools prepare students for college. For 2023, Maryland has over 30 high schools receiving gold, silver or bronze medals.
Claiming the top spot is the School for the Talented and Gifted in South Baltimore. This specialized magnet school only admits students who exceed minimum qualifications on aptitude and achievement tests. With just over 500 students, it boasts a 100% graduation rate and offers 19 AP classes. However, its tiny size and selective admissions make it an anomaly compared to large public high schools.
Perennially topping the rankings are schools like Wootton High School in Rockville, Poolesville High School in Poolesville, and Winston Churchill High School in Potomac. These suburban schools have high admissions standards, abundant resources, and families that take academics seriously. They offer two dozen or more AP classes, with some even offering university dual enrollment programs.
While these schools shine bright, some critics argue that statewide rankings favor schools in affluent districts over those facing greater socioeconomic challenges. Schools in places like Baltimore City and Somerset County work miracles educating and graduating students from disadvantaged backgrounds. But since ranking methodologies emphasize college readiness and test scores, these schools often get overlooked.
To address this, the Maryland Report Card website analyzes performance in the context of student demographics. It identifies schools performing better than expected based on their socioeconomic profile. Schools like Patterson High School in Baltimore stand out for accelerating student growth and overcoming challenges.
At the end of the day, defining Maryland’s “best” high school is largely subjective based on priorities and perspective. But taking a holistic view, schools that challenge students academically, nurture them emotionally, and prepare them for fulfilling lives should rank the highest. And those schools exist across Maryland – in urban, suburban and rural areas alike.
The diversity of strong high schools in Maryland mirrors the diversity of the state itself. Excellent teachers, engaged students and supportive communities create thriving schools everywhere. While healthy competition and rankings can encourage improvement, we must also recognize there are many pathways to provide a quality education. Each Maryland high school has strengths that make it shine.
Towson High School – long history of academic excellence
Nestled in the northern suburbs of Baltimore, Towson High School has a long and storied history of academic achievement. Originally founded in 1873, Towson High is one of the oldest public high schools in Maryland. Over the past century and a half, generations of Towson students have walked the halls and excelled both inside the classroom and beyond.
Walk into Towson today, and you’ll find a diverse student body of over 1600 students engaged in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Towson offers numerous Advanced Placement and honors courses across all disciplines – sciences, mathematics, social studies, English, languages, and the arts. Students can choose from 16 different AP courses, ranging from biology and calculus to literature and world history. For those seeking an extra challenge, Towson also offers a signature “Gifted and Talented” program that provides advanced coursework and extracurricular enrichment.
Towson’s extensive curriculum is brought to life by a talented teaching staff. Nearly 90% of Towson’s teachers hold advanced degrees, and their passion is evidenced by Towson’s high AP exam passage rates. In 2022, over 85% of Towson students passed their AP exams with scores of 3 or higher. Beyond the core subjects, Towson provides excellent programs in IT, engineering, vocal and instrumental music, theater, and more. There are also 30+ student clubs and organizations on campus to match any interest or passion.
The proof of Towson’s academic excellence lies in its outcomes. In various national rankings, Towson High consistently places among the top high schools in Maryland and the country. The Washington Post awarded Towson High a gold medal in its 2022 rankings of America’s most challenging high schools. Towson also earned silver medal status in U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools rankings. Most importantly, over 98% of Towson graduates continue their education at two-year colleges or four-year universities.
Towson’s alumni have gone on to achieve great success across many fields – medicine, law, business, technology, the arts, and more. Notable Towson graduates include Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich. Towson takes pride in preparing all students for the rigors of college and laying the foundation for their future accomplishments.
After 150 years, Towson High continues to provide an outstanding, holistic education that readies students for college and beyond. With rigorous academics, stellar teaching, and a vibrant school community, it’s no wonder Towson High remains one of the top-performing and most sought-after high schools in Maryland.
Top-Ranked High Schools in Maryland in 2023: How Do They Stack Up Against the Rest?
Every year, Maryland families agonize over finding the right high school for their child – one that will challenge them academically, broaden their worldview, and prepare them for college and career success. While Maryland boasts many excellent high schools, a few perennially rise to the top of the state’s rankings.
One such school is Towson High School in Baltimore County. As detailed above, Towson has a longstanding tradition of academic excellence spanning 150 years. With its robust gifted programs, 16 AP course offerings, and over 98% college matriculation rate, Towson provides the gold-standard for college prep public education in Maryland.
Also earning top marks statewide is Walt Whitman High School located in Montgomery County. Whitman offers an expansive curriculum of over 275 courses, including 24 different AP subjects. Students conduct original scientific research and can participate in the school’s Engineering Innovation and Robotics programs. Walt Whitman perennially earns recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
In Howard County, River Hill High School is frequently named one of Maryland’s highest performing schools. River Hill students consistently earn ACT and SAT scores that exceed state and national averages. The school provides signature programs in business and entrepreneurship, environmental studies, and music/fine arts. River Hill is also known for its stellar athletics programs.
On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Kent Island High School shines bright. This STEM-focused public school allows students to specialize in areas like engineering, biomedical science, and cybersecurity. Kent Island operates an internship program that places students with local businesses and health institutions to gain real-world experience.
And finally, the Science and Tech Program at Eastern Technical High School must be mentioned. Located in Baltimore County, this magnet program draws gifted students countywide who wish to immerse themselves in advanced lab sciences and mathematics. Eastern Tech’s STEM program is routinely considered one of the best in the state of Maryland.
While by no means exhaustive, this list provides a sampling of some of the powerhouse public high schools that rise above the pack in Maryland. All of the above schools provide top-notch college preparatory academics, stellar teaching staff, vibrant student life opportunities, and state-of-the-art facilities. They exemplify what a modern, well-rounded education should provide.
Beyond this upper echelon, Maryland has dozens more A-rated high schools providing quality college prep experiences. Parents are encouraged to look rigorously at what each school offers in terms of curriculum, teaching excellence, academic support, and extracurricular activities. By finding the right fit for their child’s needs and interests, Maryland families can rest assured their student will be prepared for whatever lies ahead after graduation.
Urbana High School – high graduation rates
Situated in Frederick County, Urbana High School has earned a reputation for graduating students who are ready to take on the world. With high graduation rates, a diverse and engaging curriculum, and a tight-knit community, Urbana equips its students for success in college and beyond.
Urbana High School first opened its doors in 1991, and has since grown into one of the area’s largest and highest-performing high schools. The school now serves over 1600 students in grades 9 through 12. Urbana’s principal and 80+ teachers work closely with families to support each student’s growth and achievement.
A key ingredient in Urbana’s success is its excellent academic programs. Urbana offers 16 Advanced Placement courses and a broad selection of electives including engineering, biomedical sciences, web design, and more. In 2022, Urbana students passed AP exams at a rate of 88% – well above state and national averages. Urbana also provides targeted support programs to meet the needs of all learners.
Complementing Urbana’s academics are its outstanding extracurricular activities. Urbana’s music program has earned multiple awards and championships. Its athletics teams frequently qualify for regional and state playoffs. And Urbana’s 50+ student clubs allow students to explore interests from robotics to activism and creative writing.
The proof of Urbana’s well-rounded approach lies in its graduation and matriculation outcomes. Over the past decade, Urbana has achieved an average 4-year graduation rate of 95% – among the highest for any public high school in Maryland. Furthermore, 98% of Urbana graduates go on to attend two or four-year colleges after graduation.
Urbana’s alumni have matriculated at top universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and many more. They’ve gone on to successful careers in fields like medicine, technology, business, politics, and entertainment. Among Urbana’s esteemed graduates are physician author Siddhartha Mukherjee and NBA basketball player Kevin Durant.
After 30 years, Urbana High continues to fulfill its mission of empowering students to become compassionate, thoughtful, and contributing global citizens. With its commitment to high achievement, diversity, and community, Urbana creates an educational experience that allows all students to thrive.
Top-Ranked High Schools in Maryland in 2023: How Do They Stack Up Against the Rest?
Finding the right high school is one of the most important decisions Maryland families can make to shape their child’s future success. While the state offers many excellent options, a few schools perennially rise to the top of the rankings thanks to their rigorous academics, stellar teaching, and ability to prepare students for college and beyond.
In Frederick County, Urbana High School is frequently cited as one of Maryland’s highest achieving and most sought-after public schools. As outlined above, Urbana offers an expansive curriculum, award-winning activities, and some of the state’s top graduation and matriculation outcomes. It provides a nurturing yet academically rigorous environment.
Also earning recognition is Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County. Churchill is known for its competitive STEM magnet program, arts conservatory, and demanding IB Diploma Programme. Churchill students consistently earn SAT/ACT scores well above state and national averages.
Towson High School in Baltimore County is another perennial top performer. Towson’s 150-year history and academic pedigree have produced graduates like Olympic champion Michael Phelps. The school offers 16 different AP courses and signature gifted/talented programs.
In Howard County, River Hill High is frequently cited among Maryland’s elite public schools. River Hill combines rigorous coursework with immersive business and environmental studies programs. The school fields highly competitive athletic teams across multiple sports.
Rounding out the top tier is Northern High School in Calvert County. Northern students pursue interests ranging from Japanese language to engineering design and development. The school partners with the University of Maryland to offer a dual enrollment engineering program.
While this sampling provides a snapshot, Maryland is home to many more A-rated high schools that offer dynamic learning environments. Outstanding teachers, personalized attention, thoughtful academic and social support, and real-world learning opportunities should be top priorities for families. By thoroughly researching the options, Maryland students are sure to thrive throughout high school and beyond.
Severna Park High School – close-knit community
For generations, Severna Park High School has been bringing together the close-knit community of Severna Park, Maryland. With strong academics, diverse activities, and a nurturing environment, Severna Park High makes lasting impacts on its students.
Founded in 1959, Severna Park High School is located just south of Baltimore and draws students from Severna Park and surrounding areas. Today over 1800 students in grades 9-12 walk the halls. Despite its size, Severna Park High fosters tight bonds between students, teachers, and the community.
At Severna Park High, academics come first and foremost. The school offers 17 Advanced Placement courses as well as an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Signature programs include STEM, business management, and visual/performing arts. In 2022, Severna Park students scored an average of 1209 out of 1600 on the SAT, beating state and national averages.
Beyond the classroom, Severna Park High provides activities to match every interest – from athletic teams to theater, yearbook, Unified Sports, and over 50 different clubs. The school fields championship-winning teams in lacrosse, football, soccer, and more. Its music program has earned accolades for jazz, orchestra, and concert band performances.
Underpinning it all is the close-knit sense of community within Severna Park High. Generations of families have walked the halls. Lifelong friendships are forged. Teachers provide mentorship that extends beyond graduation. This tight-knit community allows students to find their voice and passion.
Severna Park’s success is evidenced by its graduates, who matriculate to top colleges across the country. Alumni have gone on to careers in medicine, law, arts and entertainment, government, and more. Notable graduates include NASA astronaut David Wolf and former Maryland governor John Leopold.
For over 60 years, Severna Park High has maintained traditions of academic excellence, community spirit, and extracurricular engagement. As the anchor of its hometown, Severna Park High prepares students for limitless possibilities after graduation.
Top-Ranked High Schools in Maryland in 2023: How Do They Stack Up Against the Rest?
Finding a high school that offers top-tier academics along with diverse extracurriculars in a supportive environment is a priority for many Maryland families. While the state is home to dozens of A-rated schools, a few consistently rise highest in the annual rankings.
Severna Park High School is frequently named one of Maryland’s top public high schools, thanks to its rigorous curriculum, strong community ties, championship athletics, and performing arts programs. Severna Park provides a nurturing foundation from which students can excel.
Also earning distinction is Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. Blair is one of the largest schools in Montgomery County, providing a wide breadth of academic programs from culinary arts to advanced STEM research. Blair has been named a National Blue Ribbon School multiple times.
Towson High School in Baltimore County is another perennial top performer. Towson’s 150-year history and diverse offerings like 16 AP courses and signature gifted programming make it one of Maryland’s most sought-after schools.
On the Eastern Shore, Kent Island High School is frequently named among Maryland’s highest achieving schools. Kent Island’s STEM magnet program offers pathways in engineering, biomedical science, and cybersecurity through partnerships with nearby universities and businesses.
And up in Howard County, River Hill High School rounds out one of the state’s top public schools. River Hill combines a challenging curriculum with signature programs in business, environment, and the arts. It fields strong athletic teams across many sports.
While this sampling provides but a snapshot, Maryland offers many more excellent high school options beyond these elite names. The keys are finding a school culture that aligns with a student’s needs and interests, looking for signature programs that provide depth, and ensuring teachers provide mentorship for each child to maximize their potential.
Northern High School – variety of AP course offerings
Situated in Calvert County, Northern High School provides students with a robust and diverse academic experience. Northern offers an extensive selection of Advanced Placement courses, allowing students to challenge themselves and earn college credit while still in high school.
First opened in 1976, Northern High serves over 1600 students in grades 9 through 12. The school aims to nurture well-rounded individuals by offering a broad spectrum of learning opportunities tailored to different interests and strengths.
At the heart of Northern High’s academic program is its extensive AP course offerings. Northern provides 19 different AP subjects spanning English, math, sciences, social sciences, world languages, and the arts. In 2021, Northern High students passed AP exams at a rate of 76% – well above state and national pass rates.
Complementing the AP program, Northern High also offers specialty courses in engineering, biomedical sciences, web design and computer programming, among others. There are honors level options in most subjects for motivated learners seeking extra enrichment.
Beyond core academics, Northern High School enables students to pursue interests ranging from broadcast media to culinary arts to aviation. Over 50 student clubs and organizations give further opportunities to explore passions. Northern is also home to award winning music programs and competitive athletic teams.
The end result of Northern High’s comprehensive offerings is a diverse student body prepared for whatever lies ahead after graduation. On average over 95% of Northern seniors continue their education at two- or four-year colleges and universities.
Among Northern’s esteemed alumni are former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jamie Sharper, bestselling author Wendy Mass, and American Idol finalist Baylie Brown. These graduates exemplify how Northern High launches students toward future success.
Top-Ranked High Schools in Maryland in 2023: How Do They Stack Up Against the Rest?
With so many options to consider, narrowing down a high school search can feel daunting for Maryland families. A few names reliably stand out from the pack each year thanks to their top-tier academics, diverse offerings beyond the classroom, and track records of matriculating successful graduates.
In Calvert County, Northern High School is frequently cited as one of Maryland’s highest performing public schools. As described above, Northern provides an unparalleled breadth of AP courses while enabling students to pursue passions ranging from culinary arts to aviation.
Towson High School is another perennial top contender, thanks to its 150-year legacy of academic excellence. Towson offers 16 different AP subjects and specialized gifted and talented programs. The school has produced graduates like Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring also earns distinction as one of Maryland’s premier public schools. Blair combines rigorous academics with immersive offerings in areas like culinary arts and cutting-edge STEM research. It has been honored multiple times as a National Blue Ribbon School.
Kent Island High School on the Eastern Shore also garners recognition for its STEM-focused magnet program, allowing students to specialize in engineering, biomedicine, cybersecurity and more through partnerships with nearby colleges and businesses.
And up in Howard County, River Hill High School is frequently cited for its challenging curriculum coupled with signature programs in business, environment, music, and arts. River Hill succeeds in preparing students for college and beyond.
While not exhaustive, this sampling demonstrates the diversity of exceptional public school options across Maryland. Common traits of top schools include rigorous yet broad curriculums, speciality programming, outstanding teaching staff, vibrant student communities, and track records of matriculating successful graduates. Maryland families are sure to find the right fit.
Oakland Mills High School – commitment to the arts
When it comes to the best high schools in Maryland for 2023, there are certainly some familiar names at the top of the list. Perennial academic powerhouses like Walt Whitman High School, Poolesville High School, and Wootton High School often take top honors for their rigorous curricula, standout test scores, and focus on college preparedness. However, one school that may fly under the radar – but deserves just as much recognition – is Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, MD. While Oakland Mills may not always rank at the very top of statewide lists, it exemplifies something equally important: a steadfast commitment to arts education.
Oakland Mills takes a creative approach that sets it apart from other top contenders. The school offers diverse course offerings in visual art, instrumental and vocal music, theater, and dance. Students can pursue focused pathways in the fine and performing arts while still engaging in a solid college-prep curriculum. Facilities like professional-grade art studios, a fully-equipped theater, and dedicated music rooms give students access to spaces that foster skill development.
Most notably, Oakland Mills is committed to equity in arts education. School leaders understand the immense benefits of arts involvement, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Arts education offers ways to build confidence, collaborate, think critically, and gain career exposure that some students may not find through traditional academics alone. Oakland Mills makes commendable efforts to keep program costs low, raise funds for supplies and experiences, and encourage arts participation across all student groups.
While math and reading scores may capture headlines, Oakland Mills focuses on enriching well-rounded students. Arts classes help activate both sides of the brain, making students stronger creative and analytical thinkers. Music education is linked to improved memory, focus, teamwork skills, and even IQ. Theater cultivates presentation abilities, self-expression, and empathy. Dance promotes physical fitness, spatial awareness, discipline, and stress relief. The visual arts allow self-discovery and cultural exposure.
Oakland Mills recognizes that the arts impart invaluable life skills. Students have the chance to unleash their imaginations, take risks, handle critiques, and develop a personal passion – experiences not found in a textbook. Perhaps most relevant today, arts education teaches innovation, flexibility, and inventive problem-solving. In our rapidly changing world, these human-centered strengths will serve students remarkably well in future schools, careers, and communities.
Arts Opportunities Abound
Oakland Mills students dive into the arts starting on day one. Freshmen can take Foundations of Studio Art to grasp the elements of composition, perspective, and color theory while exploring new mediums. Aspiring actors learn theatrical terminology, improvisation techniques, and scene study in Intro to Theater class. Intro to Dance allows novices to sample styles like ballet, jazz, tap, and hip hop in a supportive environment.
As students progress, they can specialize or continue sampling new disciplines. Ceramics, photography, and AP art classes appeal to budding artists, while many sign up for piano proficiency lessons or concert choir. The school musical draws triple-threat performers each winter. Ambitious thespians can take the stage in fall plays or cutting-edge productions from the OnSTAGE program.
Gifted students may apply for rigorous Signature programs in theater, vocal music, and dance that offer advanced training and college credit opportunities. Within these intimate learning communities, students gain exposure to guest artists, field trips to Baltimore theaters and galleries, and community performances. Participants even act as mentors for younger students to build leadership abilities.
For those wishing to look beyond high school, Oakland Mills guides interested students through the college audition process. Teachers share insights on creating portfolios, audition tapes, and resumes that give students an edge. The school takes great pride in seeing graduates pursue arts majors and careers year after year.
Arts as a Way of Life
Yet beyond the classroom walls, the arts permeate daily student life. Oakland Mills encourages creative pursuits not simply as classwork, but as a core part of the student experience. Students paint murals, play instruments, and craft sculptures to liven up the campus. Festivals showcase photography, dance, films created by students, and more. Clothing, posters, and locker decor express Oakland Mills students’ artistic flair.
The arts also facilitate community connections. Students beautify public spaces and volunteer as teaching assistants in elementary school art classes. Annual events like Arts Night welcome families to view exhibits and enjoy student performances. Through experiences like these, Oakland Mills champions the arts as central to building knowledge, character, and shared understanding.
While colleges and rankings focus on test scores and AP courses, those don’t tell the whole story. Top-notch high schools support students’ passions and unlock their creative potential. Oakland Mills deserves praise for making the arts accessible, relevant, and vital for so many students. Its year-round commitment fosters not just artistic technique, but invaluable life skills that students will lean on long after graduation. That’s something to applaud.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School – resources of affluent community
In any discussion about the top high schools in Maryland for 2023, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School deserves mention. Located just outside Washington D.C. in Montgomery County, Bethesda-Chevy Chase (or B-CC, as students call it) frequently appears at or near the top of statewide rankings. The school consistently posts eye-popping stats like a 99% graduation rate, average SAT scores over 1300, and over 300 AP exams passed last year alone. But what truly fuels this success? Look no further than the immense resources B-CC draws from its affluent community.
There’s no doubt B-CC students themselves are bright, motivated, and ambitious. Yet the school also benefits tremendously from highly-educated families who actively participate in academics and generously support enrichment programs. Involved parents, paired with the means to provide exceptional learning opportunities, create a potent formula for achievement.
From elementary school onward, most B-CC students grow up in households that emphasize education. Their parents – many working as engineers, lawyers, executives, and policymakers – not only have high expectations, but can financially support hiring tutors and enriching summer programs. These students develop strong academic habits and backgrounds that the high school then builds upon.
Within B-CC’s walls, parents continue enriching their students’ education. The B-CC PTSA sponsors teacher grants, hosts college information nights, and funds guest speaker series to expand learning. Parents ensure students take the most rigorous course loads, while also hiring private counselors to sharpen college application materials. This high degree of personal investment lays the groundwork for students’ success.
Equipped for Excellence
However, even the most devoted parents depend on the school itself providing quality daily instruction and adequate resources. Fortunately, B-CC delivers an exceptional learning environment.
With fresh coats of paint and expansive windows filling halls with natural light, B-CC’s facilities hardly feel like a stereotypical aging urban school. Student work displayed throughout the building adds vibrancy. The school is equipped with multiple computer labs, STEM spaces like a robotics workshop, and ample Chromebooks for classroom use. A recently modernized media center provides flexible study spaces.
But B-CC’s shining star is the staff. “I’m amazed by our teachers,” notes principal Donna Redmond Jones. “Their skill, passion, and commitment to kids are really unparalleled.” Competitive salaries allow B-CC to attract standout educators from across Montgomery County and beyond.
Teachers challenge students with a robust curriculum including 24 AP courses and electives like neuroscience and organic chemistry. Small class sizes in core subjects enable personalized attention. B-CC fosters close student-teacher relationships that inspire students to maximize their potential.
Going Above and Beyond
Yet B-CC takes learning beyond textbook lessons. With strong community support, the school offers approximately 80 extracurricular activities to deepen students’ intellectual and personal growth.
“Our students want to squeeze every drop out of high school,” says Redmond Jones. “Clubs allow them to fully pursue their interests.” A competitive speech and debate team. Student-run finance and investment club. LGBTQ alliance. Robotics club. Students even formed a non-profit tutoring service for underprivileged youth.
In the arts, B-CC runs renowned theater productions and award-winning music programs. Students put on musicals, concerts, and art showcases for the community. “We have teachers whose lives are devoted to the arts,” the principal explains. “With their guidance, students create phenomenal work.”
For struggling students, B-CC provides tutoring and extra help sessions. Gifted students conduct advanced research, enter national contests, or spend spring break on service trips. “Learning here truly goes beyond the classroom,” Redmond Jones says.
Ultimately, much of this enrichment depends on families providing financial support and volunteer hours. For example, when COVID-19 forced activities online, parents stepped up to help teachers master new technology and recreate programs virtually.
Affluent neighborhoods yield affluent schools. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School offers proof positive of this axiom. With fortunate demographics and families deeply invested in education, B-CC will likely continue as a Maryland academic powerhouse for years to come.
Walt Whitman High School – focus on holistic education
Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda has earned a reputation as one of the top academic high schools in Maryland. Walt Whitman students consistently post outstanding standardized test scores and earn admission to selective colleges nationwide. However, there’s much more to this school’s story. Behind the impressive stats, Walt Whitman pursues a holistic approach to education centered on student well-being and real-world skills.
At Walt Whitman, the culture embraces more than high GPAs and college acceptance letters. Teachers strive to understand students’ motivations and struggles, not just their grades. “Our goal is to educate the whole child, not just the test-taker,” explains principal Alan Goodwin. This people-first perspective lays the foundation for genuine learning and growth.
Within classrooms, Walt Whitman incorporates project-based learning, collaborative work, and hands-on experiences. Lessons connect to tangible skills like public speaking, research, and critical thinking. Teachers push students to apply knowledge to real issues through activities like writing op-eds, staging debates, or prototyping inventions. “Learning here is active,” says Goodwin. “It’s not just memorizing facts.”
Emphasis on Well-Being
Walt Whitman also prioritizes emotional health and balanced lifestyles. School counselors closely monitor student stress. Teachers allow flexible deadlines if workloads become overwhelming. The school even offers yoga classes to teach healthy stress relief strategies.
“We want students to do great work without sacrificing their mental health,” Goodwin explains. “While academics are important, emotional well-being is too.” Special programs provide grief counseling and addiction support. Peer mediation and mentoring foster positive relationships. Through daily practices like mindful moments, students learn long-term self-care.
Physical fitness matters too. Walt Whitman recently hired a full-time exercise physiologist to teach students proper training techniques. Nutrition lessons promote healthy diet choices. Yoga, cycling, and core strength classes get students moving during free periods. An ethos of well-roundedness permeates campus life.
Walt Whitman encourages students to branch out beyond a narrow academic focus. With over 150 student clubs and activities, students can explore new passions like robotics, cultural heritage, or community service.
“Trying new things helps students gain perspective and self-knowledge,” Goodwin says. Diverse experiences spark career interests and life aspirations. Leadership opportunities also contribute to students’ maturity and independence.
Walt Whitman’s expansive arts programs allow creatively-gifted students to shine. From orchestra and choir to theater productions and literary magazines, artistic students find their people while learning valuable skills like collaboration, communication, and creative thinking.
Inclusion underpins this wealth of offerings. School organizers ensure activities appeal to different interests, abilities, cultures, and learning styles. “Every student should feel a sense of belonging here,” affirms Goodwin.
Results Speak Volumes
Some may see Walt Whitman’s warm, well-rounded approach as soft or as sacrificing rigor. Quite the contrary. Walt Whitman’s holistic educational model delivers phenomenal academic results year after year.
In 2022, Walt Whitman students averaged 1467 on the SAT, with 100% pursuing higher education. The graduation rate stands at a nearly perfect 99%. Impressive, but numeric success does not drive Walt Whitman’s mission.
“Our students thrive because we see them as people, not just learners,” concludes principal Goodwin. “Their emotional growth and personal journeys matter. That’s why our graduates leave here not just prepared for college, but for life.”
For these reasons, Walt Whitman High School stakes its claim among Maryland’s elite schools. However, the roots of Walt Whitman’s greatness run much deeper than any ranking can convey.