Classical, Barrington high schools climb higher in ranking of nation’s best

PROVIDENCE – Classical High School and Barrington High School held onto their rankings as No. 1 and No. 2 public high schools, respectively, in Rhode Island and jumped higher nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best High Schools, according to the annual rankings released Tuesday.

Classical, in Providence, ranked No. 168 in the nation, up from No. 281 in last year’s ranking. Barrington was No. 189, up from No. 316 last year. The two schools were the only Rhode Island public high schools to rank in the top 500 in the U.S.

Because the rankings were expanded to include thousands more high schools in 2019 and the ranking methodology was revamped, U.S. News discouraged making comparisons with last year’s national rankings. The changes also meant U.S. News didn’t award gold, silver and bronze medals to high-performing schools as it has in the past.

Schools were graded on factors such as math and reading performance and proficiency, and how well they prepare students for college.

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U.S. News data analyst Eric Brooks said Classical ranked high because its students performed well on statewide assessments measuring proficiency in mathematics, English, language arts and literacy. Classical scored in the 91st percentile even as 68% of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, Brooks said. It also ranked in the 98th percentile nationally in college readiness with 91% of 12th graders taking an Advanced Placement exam and 62% of 12th graders passing at least one AP exam. The graduation rate stands at 97%.

Meanwhile, Barrington had the highest scores in Rhode Island in the statewide assessment (99.99 percentile) and the highest graduation rate at almost 99%, Brooks said.

In the state ranking, Classical and Barrington were followed by East Greenwich (No. 655 in the nation), North Kingstown (No. 1,204) and North Smithfield (No. 1,845). Chariho, which was No. 3 in Rhode Island last year, fell to No. 6 in the state in 2019, according to U.S. News. It ranked No. 1,892 nationally.

Barrington was also ranked No. 182 in the nation for STEM high schools. It was the only Rhode Island school to appear in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) ranking.

Paul Cuffee Charter School in Providence, which ranked No. 10 in Rhode Island, was No. 329 in the nation among charter schools. Village Green Virtual in Providence ranked No. 587 and Times2 Academy in Providence was No. 663.

In a state-by-state comparison of high school performance, Rhode Island ranked No. 12 because 5.4% of its public high schools were in the top 5% of schools nationwide, 7.1% of schools were among the top 10% in the nation, and 30.4% were in the top 25% nationally.

By those measurements, Massachusetts was tops in the nation with 11.1% of its public high schools in the top 5% nationally, 21.1% in the top 10%, and 48.8% in the top 25%.

Connecticut ranked No. 4, Vermont No. 7, Maine No. 11 and New Hampshire was No. 18.

For more rankings and data on individual schools, visit the U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best High Schools website at

William Hamilton is a PBN staff writer and the special projects editor. You can follow him on Twitter @waham or email him at