1,838 public high schools in 25 states honored for college readiness, success

GreatSchools.org’s annual ‘College Success Award’ recognizes high schools that excel at helping students succeed after graduation

OAKLAND, CA (September 23, 2021) — As schools settle in to the first in-person school year in two years, 1,838 high schools in 25 states have a reason to celebrate. Today, GreatSchools.org announced the recipients of its 2021 College Success Award, an annual recognition that honors high schools excelling at preparing students to enroll and succeed in college, as determined by available data in each state.

This unique award, based on high school and postsecondary data provided by state education agencies, offers a snapshot of whether a high school prepares students to enroll in college, succeed with college-level coursework, and persist into their second year. School, district, and state education leaders in these 25 states were undeterred by the pandemic’s challenges and provided the critical data transparency needed to help communities understand paths to success from high school to college.

GreatSchools also awarded a new, elevated distinction of excellence — the College Success Award – Gold — to 1,770 schools today with multiyear track records of preparing students to enroll and succeed in college. Gold awardees have won two or more College Success Awards since the program began, with at least one win being in 2020 or 2021.

“Since we launched the College Success Award in 2018, we have learned so much about what makes high schools tick and how successful schools and leaders position their students on a path to success in college,” said GreatSchools CEO Jon Deane. “Our goal is to find and recognize these bright spots while uncovering common practices and insights from Award-winners — especially those that serve historically marginalized students well — that any high school can adopt. These practices can then become a basis for policies that enable all students to succeed in college.”

As the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact learning within historically marginalized student groups, understanding proven practices worthy of potential investment is critical. GreatSchools’ recent report, Strategies for Postsecondary Success, surveyed school leaders in states that have provided multiple years of postsecondary data to understand what practices contribute to their success. Results showed that schools serving students from lower-income families were less likely to offer access to advanced courses, a key predictor of college readiness. Among higher-income schools, 90% of College Success Award-winners and 71% of non-winners offer at least one Advanced Placement class. For lower-income schools, those numbers drop to 75% and 70%, respectively.

“A great school is one that serves all students well,” said Dr. Dana Pugh, principal of Grayson High School in Loganville, GA. The school is a four-time College Success Award recipient and inaugural Gold awardee. “Earning our fourth consecutive College Success Award is a testament to the entire Grayson community’s commitment to preparing our scholars for college. Our school is proof that providing students opportunities to take challenging courses, engage in deeper thinking, and explore college options early can set them on a path to lifelong success.”

In addition to building demand for greater data transparency, the College Success Award serves as a repository of excellence in high school education from which GreatSchools has identified best practices, conducted research, and shared stories from principals, parents, and teachers at schools doing an exceptional job of serving students from low-income families.

Explore the Award methodology and browse the full list of winners at https://bit.ly/3o42JbT.

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About GreatSchools:

GreatSchools is the leading national nonprofit empowering parents with essential information to improve educational opportunities for their child. We are the only national organization that collects and analyzes data from all 51 state departments of education and the federal government to provide analysis, insights, and school quality ratings for parents, partners, researchers, and policymakers. Over 46 million users visit GreatSchools’ award-winning website annually to learn about schools in their area, explore research insights, and access thousands of free, evidence-based parenting resources to support their child’s learning and well-being. Learn more at GreatSchools.org and join us on Twitter and Facebook.


*Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

*High schools in Florida and Idaho were only eligible for the Gold distinction this year, as their respective state departments of education did not supply sufficient recent data necessary for the annual Award analysis.

Author: GreatSchools.org

GreatSchools.org is the leading national nonprofit empowering parents with essential information to improve educational opportunities for their child. We are the only national organization that collects and analyzes data from all 51 state departments of education and the federal government to provide analysis, insights, and school quality ratings for parents, partners, researchers, and policymakers. Over 46 million users visit GreatSchools’ award-winning website annually to learn about schools in their area, explore research insights, and access thousands of free, evidence-based parenting resources to support their child’s learning and well-being.