The rankings were created by evaluating more than 20,500 public high schools nationwide, identifying those that best serve all students and assess the degree to which students are prepared for college-level coursework. John Hardin also earned a bronze medal and the nationally recognized distinction. Payton ranked as the nation's 52nd best high school, according to U.S. News.
U.S. News based the rankings on data from the 2015-16 school year.
Harding Charter Prep, which ranked 150th nationally among high schools, has a 95 percent graduation rate, and offers Advanced Placement course work and exams to all students.
Bemidji High School is the 50th best in Minnesota and the 2,344th best in the country, according to the longstanding media company.
California came in second to MA for the number of top-performing schools in the nation. The rankings are based on the school's performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. About 11 percent of the schools ranked earned silver medals. Spokesman Chris Williams said the rankings show the teamwork happening between parents and teachers, which is what makes any school great.
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Charter schools receive government funding but operate independently of the established state school system in which they are located.
The second step in the U.S. News methodology assessed whether a school's black, Hispanic and low-income students "performed at or better than the state average for historically [under-served] students".
He said the school's tradition of excellence permeates through every person in the building.
None of Mississippi's 250 public high schools earned gold medal status, but Ocean Springs was one of only three in the state to earn a silver medal and the only one from Jackson County to do so.