2017 Best Public High Schools in California

The 2017 Best Public High Schools ranking is based on rigorous analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Ranking factors include state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, and high school ratings.
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Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    Henry M. Gunn High School

    • Palo Alto, CA
    • 229 reviews
    Senior:Most teachers are friendly and pretty lenient about tardies and absences (students still do well in school because they're self-motivated). Some teachers are awful, though.
    The administration is okay, although they've made some unpopular decisions. Last year, they didn't follow the AP testing set-up guidlines, prompting college board to cancel the scores of over 400 students for 11 tests. Many of these students (including me) retook the tests to get AP credit. They've also taken a few months to decided whether or not to report students' weighted GPAs on transcripts (which I think is an easy decision: report them to level the playing field for college applications). I know that some of the admins have good intentions (lower student stress to preserve mental health), but they have a problem with listening to the students' opinions, which I think is a big problem because most of their decisions directly affect us.
    More about Henry M. Gunn High School
  2. 2

    Troy High School

    • Fullerton, CA
    • 671 reviews
    Senior:Awesome experience. Great detail to education of all students.
    No disruption during school times. Been at Troy for 4 years and my brother was there 3 years prior to me, only 1 incident on campus involving students in the 7 years I been associated with Troy HS. Don't get much better that!
    Amazing teaching stuff, they are always available to help if needed. Plenty of tutoring available if needed.
    More about Troy High School
  3. 3

    Miramonte High School

    • Orinda, CA
    • 164 reviews
    Senior:AP classes are extremely difficult while regular classes are ridiculously easy. Most students are nice but some can be snobbish and look down on you if you aren't wealthy, aren't "smart", don't play sports, etc. The diversity is slowly improving, especially in 9th/10th grade. Most teachers are very qualified for their jobs and but there are some outliers (see rate my teacher). Food is overpriced and repetitive. But overall a great school!
    More about Miramonte High School
  4. 4

    Saratoga High School

    • Saratoga, CA
    • 123 reviews
    Senior:I liked my experience at SHS! Overall, it's a great community with great academics and opportunities to get involved with the student body. It's kind of cliche but your experience is "you get out what you put in." It's easy to abstain from activities, but if you really want the best experience possible, I suggest joining clubs, sports, and going to the many many events SHS hosts. The teachers I've had are mostly great, with a few exceptions, but I feel like they all do want me to succeed (except for maybe one or two). I've always found the student body to be supportive and generally good people, but I know some who do not share my viewpoint on that. I super duper suggest you join MAP bc it's the best family to be a part of :)
    More about Saratoga High School
  5. 5

    Palo Alto High School

    • Palo Alto, CA
    • 257 reviews
    Senior:Palo Alto High School (Paly) is a very accepting high school, full of talented and intelligent individuals. We have received lots of criticism in the past in regards to the competitive nature at our high school, but I believe that the teachers and administration are doing there best to support the students. All the teachers and administrators are very accessible and helpful, and they provide any support, academic or emotional, when needed. The competitive nature at our school arises from the students themselves because everyone is so motivated to succeed, so everyone is doing their best, be it in classes, athletics, or clubs. Another thing that surprised me was the amazing school spirit. Our football and basketball games have a decent student attendance, but regardless of the number of people in the crowd, the crowd still goes wild. Our spirit is especially portrayed during our spirit week where all the classes compete against one another.
    More about Palo Alto High School
  6. 6

    Palos Verdes Peninsula High School

    • Rolling Hills Estates, CA
    • 532 reviews
    Junior:PVPHS has always been important to me. It focuses mostly on academics, but as of 2016 its sports have begun to improve. However, its main point of appeal is its academics. The Academic Decathlon, Debate, and Robotics teams are superb, and the teachers are always willing to do whatever they can to create a wonderful learning environment. The only negative is that the drama department suffers from a lack of funding, but that doesn't stop it from being able to place in the top ten in CETA festival. The school, while flawed, is overall one of the best high schools in the nation, and one that I am proud to have attended.
    More about Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
  7. 7

    Canyon Crest Academy

    • San Diego, CA
    • 421 reviews
    High School Senior:CCA has been an incredible school to attend for these past 4 years of high school. I have been able to get involved with awesome school activities (Like the Improv Team: Comedy Sportz), attend school sponsored events that have helped bond my Senior Class, and have met incredible people who will remain close friends even after high school. I wouldn't change my high school experience for the world. CCA is unique for millions of reasons, but I think a primary reason is simply the fun culture on campus. Students and teachers work together to make school fun and engaging and our incredible staff and administrators all are invested in making the campus community the best it can be. For example, on our principal's birthday last year, ASB hired a mariachi band to follow him around campus for the day! It was a fun and heartwarming day for everyone on campus.
    More about Canyon Crest Academy
  8. 8

    Los Altos High School

    • Los Altos, CA
    • 226 reviews
    Senior:As a current senior at Los Altos High School I have been able to view the school from each grade level. The academics here are rigorous, each student being expected to take at least a few AP and/or honors classes before graduating. The teachers, knowing this unspoken expectation, try their hardest to make the classes as enjoyable and easy as possible, while still covering all the material needed. However, despite this, and much alike many other high schools, students can stumble upon teachers that are, well, not pleasant. Other than the academics, Los Altos has okay sports programs, not being the best but also not the worst. The only downside of this high school I would have to say, is the lack of school spirit. Contrary to the traditional high school experience, students here do not take school pride seriously, and rallies, as well as dances, tend to be bland.
    More about Los Altos High School
  9. 9

    Redwood High School

    • Larkspur, CA
    • 168 reviews
    Senior:Academics and opportunities are endless since the school is so large. However, it's hard to make friends and social life and school culture needs improving. Students are pushed to be independent and responsible for themselves and many teachers are very passionate about the subjects they teach. There are many courses offered as well.
    More about Redwood High School
  10. 10

    Westview High School

    • San Diego, CA
    • 513 reviews
    Senior:I came into Westview as a new student my senior year-- I've had my fair share of being the new kid-- and yet when I came to Westview, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. Westview knows how to get results. It is ranked well, academically driven, and is super college focused. This is great, but it comes with repercussions. So many students based their self-worth on scores, to the point of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. I wish Westview reminded their students that school is an opportunity. It is a gateway to help explore the possibilities as an innovative and creative human, like an instrument to navigate our lives through. It is not your identity, rather it is a tool to shape your identity. It is apparent that Westview truly cares about its students, but it troubles me to see so many students forget that not having the perfect grades or scores means that they are not enough. It isn't necessarily always about education, but about learning.
    More about Westview High School
  11. 11

    Carmel High School

    • Carmel, CA
    • 183 reviews
    Alum:Carmel high school is unique in the sense that when students graduate from there they leave with more than just a diploma; they with an education worth having. The teachers here go above and beyond to not jut ensure you pass their classes, but to make you care about your learning experience. Being part of the AVID program made me especially prepared for applying to colleges and knowing I will succeed with the tools to success I learned. I am truly lucky to have attended Carmel High School, and I one day hope to go back there to make the next generation care about there education as a teacher myself.
    More about Carmel High School
  12. 12

    Mountain View High School

    • Mountain View, CA
    • 238 reviews
    Niche User:Just like at any school, the teachers and their instruction styles differ, and always will. In my time at MVHS, the event that stands out the most in my memory is a town hall-style meeting that was called with the school board to discuss a controversial article written in The Oracle, MVHS's student newspaper.

    The very small article in question was written by one of my good friends, who has since continued to engage the public in difficult but important conversations. In the Valentine's Day edition of The Oracle, my friend wrote a short piece about the myths of sex, the importance of birth control, and where to find it.

    A small handful of parents were outraged by the article and called for the student-run newspaper to be dismantled. At the meeting with the school board, which was held in MVHS's theater, a large number of students and parents came out to defend the article in question and support the newspaper. I remember one parent dedicating her allotted 2 minutes of speaking time to simply applauding the students who worked long hours to put out The Oracle regularly.

    Nothing much came of this meeting, but for me the whole event sums up what was important to me about Mountain View High School: brave students, supportive peers and students, and the willingness of the administration and school board to handle the issue in a constructive way. My younger brother is coming up on his senior year at MVHS, and I know the student body is still comfortable voicing their concerns and engaging their peers and the administration in issues that they find important.
    More about Mountain View High School
  13. 13

    Lowell High School

    • San Francisco, CA
    • 796 reviews
    Senior:Most of the stereotypes about Lowell are true; it is highly competitive with a heavy workload, and it is difficult to get good grades. It does, however, push its students to do better, because of the competition. Lowell also has great resources, with remarkable counselors and an excellent Wellness Center. There are also many clubs, so you are bound to find one that you like. If not, it is super easy to start a new one!
    More about Lowell High School
  14. 14

    Northwood High School

    • Irvine, CA
    • 398 reviews
    Senior:Here, you will find students willing to go above and beyond in their academic studies while still managing to balance other extracurricular activities.The teachers love challenging the students while still care about their well-being. Northwood is very connected as we take a lot of pride in the multiple Grammy Awards our performing arts have won and our amazing marching band. It’s located in a very safe and protected city and the campus is the prettiest one in our school district and is still fairly new. The block schedule at Northwood is very helpful because we are able to have longer and more in-depth classes every other day. However, Northwood offers limited classes compared to other schools. CP Biology was not an option nor were classes that helped with college essays. Also, students are required to take Integrated Science 1 and 2 for their first two years which limited their options of taking other science classes. Despite that, Northwood still helps students excel in college.
    More about Northwood High School
  15. 15

    Granada Hills Charter High School

    • Granada Hills, CA
    • 1,069 reviews
    Senior:Granada Hills Charter High is a diverse, welcoming, and enlightening environment for any student. As a Latina from Panorama entering a new school in a completely new community was intimidating, however today I am proud to call myself a Highlander. Although the rules may be outstandingly strict, the educational opportunities never cease. Before entering high school I was merely another student who struggled in every class, after only a couple weeks of Granada I noticed a drastic transformation in how my teachers acted differently; they supported, challenged, and guided me to success.
    More about Granada Hills Charter High School
  16. 16

    Aragon High School

    • San Mateo, CA
    • 198 reviews
    Senior:As a senior I've had a great high school experience at Aragon; I've met so many great people and great teachers! There are so many student run clubs at this school, and the sports have amazing coaches. The cafeteria food may be questionable at times, so I bring my own lunch. Aragon is known to be a very studious and hard working school, so just be prepared for the workload if you're an incoming student.
    More about Aragon High School
  17. 17
    Junior:California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS) is a school that takes all dedication to get every student into college. There are many different people you meet; this school is really diverse and the best part about it is not just about the academics, but the cultures brought together by every person. This school is within the campus of a university so we have materials other schools don't really have, such as books from the university's library, as well as college classes we can take. There's not much change I hope to see from this school, however more exposure to nature would be really great.
    More about California Academy of Mathematics & Science
  18. 18

    Torrey Pines High School

    • San Diego, CA
    • 347 reviews
    Senior:Torrey Pines has opened my mind and eyes to many things. It has taught me how to work hard and strive to be greater everyday. The teachers care for their students and want the best for them. They push us past our limits thus teaching us valuable lessons and how to be hard workers. The campus is big, the people are friendly and although the classes can be challenging they will keep you on your feet wanting to learn more and more. I have met my best friends at this school and have gone through rough patches but everyone here is extremely supportive and proud to be studying at this amazing of a school. Everyday is a great day to be a falcon!
    More about Torrey Pines High School
  19. 19

    Orange County School of the Arts

    • Santa Ana, CA
    • 374 reviews
    Senior:My time at Orange County School of the Arts has been an amazing experience. I am part of the conservatory Integrated Arts and it has given me the opportunity to explore so many different art forms that I love including screenwriting, stage combat, and theatrical make-up. The academics are very rigorous as well and we have fantastic teachers who are passionate about their work. I particularly love the language programs. I was personally able to explore Spanish for four years and now I am attending a Mandarin class. Additionally, I love being a part of the Taekwondo program and having the opportunity to participate in rank testings. I have learned so much in this loving and accepting community of artists!
    More about Orange County School of the Arts
  20. 20

    Burlingame High School

    • Burlingame, CA
    • 181 reviews
    Alum:I had a phenomenal experience at Burlingame. I received an education that prepared me for college, and had an unmatched athletic career (went undefeated for two seasons, winning back-to-back championships!) that also prepared me to compete at the Division 1 level. I remember my time at Burlingame fondly and am looking forward to coming back to tell my teachers that I will be starting medical school in the fall!
    More about Burlingame High School
  21. 21

    Del Norte High School

    • San Diego, CA
    • 284 reviews
    Senior:There is admirable inclusiveness within the students on campus. The teachers are willing to do as much as they can to help the students succeed, even if that means staying in at lunch or after school. The school provides many other ways for students to get help with after school tutorial times to further ask your teachers questions and offer peer tutoring aid. The students are encouraged to discover their strengths and weaknesses on their own and learn how to get the academic help they need by themselves, in preparation for college and the future. There are numerous ways to stay connected with others through means of extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, drama and choir. The school classrooms are not huge, leading to more one-on-one time with students and teachers. The library contains books, computers, printers, and study rooms which you can reserve for group projects or a quiet work space.
    More about Del Norte High School
  22. 22

    Los Gatos High School

    • Los Gatos, CA
    • 201 reviews
    Niche User:The reason I love this school as a parent are the following:

    * The Principal and teachers/staff truly care about the students

    * The diversity of kids ( not just race but economics / upbringing / talent / drive both in academics, art, sports, drama etc. )

    * The loyalty of the community and the students

    * Personal attention to the students that comes with a small school / town

    * If you really did your homework with this survey.. You would understand why Los Gatos is one of the top places to live and bring up your children in California. The elite "Young Urban Professionals in the Silicon Valley seek to live in Los Gatos when it is possible for them to do so. Our houses prices prove this!
    More about Los Gatos High School
  23. 23

    San Mateo High School

    • San Mateo, CA
    • 171 reviews
    Sophomore:San Mateo High School is truly a gem! From its excellent academics and challenging classes (Most AP Classes in the district, National Merit Scholars every year, kids getting into top colleges like Harvard, Stanford , MIT etc.), to its incredible performing arts, biotech and leadership programs, to the huge number of clubs on campus from Mock Trial to Model UN to JSA to Jefferson Awards Club, San Mateo has something to offer to every student. The incredible spirit and inclusive atmosphere at San Mateo was a huge deciding factor in addition to the advanced math, history, writing, music and performing arts classes she wanted. SMHS is a safe campus where diversity is celebrated. It is a completely safe campus with excellent, challenging academics and that is precisely why I am thriving at San Mateo!
    More about San Mateo High School
  24. 24

    Amador Valley High School

    • Pleasanton, CA
    • 386 reviews
    Senior:There is definitely a very competitive atmosphere at Amador. However, it is a overall a great school, with mostly good teachers, and school spirit. The more involved you are at the school, the more fun your experience will be. We do not have the best sports teams, but our academics are far superior to most other schools. Go Dons!
    More about Amador Valley High School
  25. 25

    Campolindo High School

    • Moraga, CA
    • 213 reviews
    Alum:Some of the teachers at this school were my favorites throughout my entire education, and motivated me to take a serious interest in a variety of subjects I wouldn't have otherwise gravitated toward. The facilities were always exceptional given the generous parental donations to the town's education foundation. The athletics are some of the most competitive in the state, with many sports teams winning state championships (sometimes consecutively). The culture amongst the staff, faculty, and students is generally encouraging and supportive.
    More about Campolindo High School