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Is Your Child’s High School On The List?

California’s average student test scores consistently rank in the bottom quartile nationally. It would be easy to assume that, like so much of life in California, our public school system is bifurcated: with some of the nation’s best schools in more affluent coastal areas, and many more students languishing in schools that are among the nation’s worst, leading to the low average scores.

New data from Niche suggest that our public school system is not as unequal as one might think, but not because we’re doing right by our underserved students. Instead, it’s because even our strongest public schools aren’t all that good either. Just 4 public high schools in California are among the nation’s top 100, despite the fact that California has 12% of the nation’s population, and 15 percent of its GDP. Perhaps even more shocking is that all four of the California public schools in the top 100 nationally are in a single county: Santa Clara.

As California’s top public schools are floundering, the state’s leading private schools are flourishing. They account for nearly a quarter of the top 100 private schools in the country.

The state has massive work to do to see that all our students have access to a quality education, and our focus has to be on our underserved kids. Yet as a state, we pursue both broadly shared opportunity and excellence simultaneously in our public institutions of higher education. There is no reason we cannot do the same for our public high schools.

At the 21st Century Alliance, our goal is to move California students’ academic performance from the bottom quartile nationally to the top quartile by 2035: Focusing on our neediest kids, but also seeing that our best public schools can compete with anyone.

I hope you’ll join us in that effort.

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