These Are the Best High Schools in Tennessee

David Luther
by David Luther
Rankings - 10 months ago
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Tennessee — with all of the double-letter combos in “Tennessee” it’s only the ninth most-difficult-to-spell state in the country. It’s the home of Moon Pies, Justin Timberlake, ironic Piggly Wiggly shirts, and referred to as both the “Home of Country Music” and the “Source of the Miley Cyrus Outbreak” — but it’s also home to something else: spectacular secondary education.

Or high schools, if you’re not pretentious, that we ranked as the best high schools in Tennessee.

Despite having relatively low public education funding, Tennessee is still one of the most efficient spenders of public education funds in the country, where 7.3 percent of its 358 high schools are gold or silver medalists — I’m sure you can do that mental math yourself.

Of course, the state mandated abstinence-only sexual education is a little backwards, replete with an anti-underage-hand-holding curriculum that defines holding hands and kissing as “gateway sexual activities” — so no hand-holding in the halls of these outstanding institutions of learning.

Scroll down for a description of each, but first, here’s a quick look.

  1. Martin Luther King Jr School
  2. Central Magnet School
  3. Madison Academic Magnet High School
  4. Ravenwood High School
  5. Franklin High School
  6. Farragut High School
  7. Fred J Page High School
  8. Greeneville High School
  9. Collierville High School
  10. Houston High School

Methodology for the best schools in Tennessee

Our methodology is fairly straightforward — the first thing we did was rank schools with 75 or more students by the quality of the most recent Reading and Math proficiency standings from the Department of Education, which indicates the percentage of students operating at the state-mandated level.

Our top ten schools then got broken further using Advanced Placement (AP) Test passage rates, student to faculty ratios, graduation rates, and the performance of their economically disadvantaged students, receiving a point in our index for each spot they ranked in.

We added the points up, and the schools were then ranked based off of that index.

1. Martin Luther King Jr School


School Description: First place goes to this U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School magnet school in Nashville where students can choose from Spanish for the practical, Latin for the impractical, and more than 25 honors and AP classes — which they pass more than three of four times.

Though MLK was neck and neck with the second place winner, it was arbitrarily awarded first place for two reasons: it’s only relatively weak score is a 21:1 faculty ratio, but has 218 economically disadvantaged students who scored above the 95th percentile. That’s just stunning.

2. Central Magnet School


School Description: One of the best high schools in the country, creativity with names isn’t really Central’s strong suit: it’s in the literal geographic center of Tennessee.

And about your mascot: how about you show some of the academic chops you must have for maintaining a 100 percent graduation rate, reading and math proficiency, and 92 percent AP passage rate — call yourselves the Epicenters or something.

I mean, the Tigers? Really innovative… But considering that trap shooting is a sport here, maybe hearing that the Tigers with guns are about to take the range terrifies the competition. Actually, nice move, Tigers.

3. Madison Academic Magnet High School


School Description: Scoring well in everything except student-faculty ratio (where they take first place with 15:1), this gorgeous school also gets applause for having some of the more interesting clubs: Excel Club, Audacious Authors Creative Writing Group, and Knit One Crochet Two.

Also, bonus points for not being something scary like a firearm-toting tiger, Mustangs.

4. Ravenwood High School


School Description: With 25 AP courses and a passage rate of 75 percent, y’all are pretty advancedly placed. And even though the faculty ratio isn’t quite as sharp, the fact that there are twelve counselors and seven student support services personnel is worthy of mention.
And I know that they’re not dinosaurs in this case, but thanks for putting the thought of velociraptors with bowling balls in my head instead of shotguns, Raptors.

5. Franklin High School


School Description: Franklin is actually the second high school in this list in Williamson County, so they’re doing something right over there. Solid scores across the board include a 98 percent passage rate, which I should remind you means a lot at a public school. Students have access to courses in both collision repair and ACT review, showing that it’s a school of the people.

And, Rebels with guns… that at least makes some sense — fun fact you guys, Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War and the first state to be readmitted after the war.

Did you know that? I’ll bet you didn’t know that.

You didn’t know that.

More like the Franklin Flipfloppers, am I right Page High School?

6. Farragut High School


School Description: Farragut High School is a standout for both its #1 graduation rank and it’s low faculty ratio, as well as for giving students options to take accounting, nutrition, and marketing classes.

They also offer Mental Health 101, which demonstrates genuine care for students and parents.

Almost makes up for the fact that the school supply list demands literally five boxes of tissues and literally practically 79 highlighters.

7. Fred J Page High School


School Description: Page has top three math proficiency and faculty scores, and also takes its students on tours of colleges — that goes hand-in-hand with its 96 percent graduation rate.

Also of note, this is the final of three schools in Williamson County school district. Maybe it’s something in the water? Or maybe it’s the $86,962 median household income taxbase. You be the judge.

And a shout-out to the Patriots baseball team, for hosting a mattress sale instead of trying to hock revolting candy bars that come in those huge cardboard boxes. And armed Patriot isn’t so bizarre, so things are getting back to normal.

8. Greeneville High School


School Description: Devils, yeah, ok, whatever I’m over the scary mascot thing. GHS partners with a local community college to offer dual enrollment courses for college credit, and the GEAP program where students may earn an Associate’s degree and high school diploma simultaneously.

They also get credit for not banning cellphones, and instead implementing them as learning devices in the classroom.

9. Collierville High School


School Description: What is also home to 19 mph speed limits, Collierville hosts this outstanding school, whose commendable scores across the board but fewer economically disadvantaged students put it a few places behind — maybe that has something to do with the 7:00 AM first bell?

Oh my, and just when you thought it was safe, we’re back with Dragons — but these dragons are world champion cheerleaders, so it’s ok.

10. Houston High School


School Description: I can’t help but note that this school, nestled in Germantown, also has a German folk dancing club — I think maybe some things just don’t need to be kept alive. And I guess it’s kind of crowded, because “No fast food is to be brought in. We have no room” is the only thing highlighted on the rules list — how much room do you need?

By this point you were probably expecting ten-story cybernetic vampire grizzlies, but Houston High’s mascot is just a horse or something.

Wrapping Up

That’s all for this one, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

Are you a thinking about where to apply to college? Find out which collleges give you the best job prospects in Tennessee and beyond.

Or are you looking for something a bit smaller? Find out which small colleges would put you in the best position for jobs upon graduation.

Top Ten Schools in Tennessee

Rank School Name District Math % Proficient Reading % Proficient Graduation Rate Ap Pass Rate Ratio
1 Martin Luther King Jr School Davidson County 98 98 100% 76% 21:1
2 Central Magnet School Rutherford County 100 100 100% 92% 18:1
3 Madison Academic Magnet High School Madison County 88 95 100% 75% 15:1
4 Ravenwood High School Williamson County 93 94 96% 85% 19:1
5 Franklin High School Williamson County 91 92 98% 81% 18:1
6 Farragut High School Knox County 91 89 100% 75% 17:1
7 Fred J Page High School Williamson County 95 96 96% 57% 16:1
8 Greeneville High School Greeneville 86 76 96% 87% 15:1
9 Collierville High School Collierville 87 86 91% 74% 21:1
10 Houston High School Germantown 85 88 90% 70% 20:1

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