Maine tied with California as having the best high schools in the nation – both having the highest percentage of schools earning top honors in the annual ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

Both states had slightly more than 22 percent of high schools with either gold or silver rankings, which represent the top 9 percent of the schools listed.

A gold medal was awarded to the top 500 schools in the nation – the top 2 percent – identified as the best schools for college readiness, based on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data. Silver medals, also based on college readiness, were awarded to 1,519 schools, or 7 percent of schools.

The Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone continued to dominate the standings in several categories: best high school in the state, 13th best public high school in the nation and the third-best magnet school in the nation.

Rounding out the top 10 high schools are: Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunk, Wells, York, Camden Hills Regional, Orono and Scarborough.

Kennebunk showed the greatest gains on the top 10 list, moving up two slots, while Greely and Bangor high schools dropped off the list. And York High School, which protested being left off the list last year, was in seventh.

Three of the top-10 ranked Maine schools did not get an A from the state Department of Education’s new report card system, unveiled last year. Camden Hills Regional and Wells high schools both got B’s from the state, and Orono High School got a C.

The Maine School of Science and Mathematics, which opened in 1995, is the only school of its kind in New England and one of only 11 statewide residential magnet schools specializing in math and science in the United States. It uses a combination of recommendations and test scores to admit students. Tuition for residents is free, but mandatory room and board costs slightly more than $8,000 a year.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

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