Western Center Academy leads list of study’s highest-ranked public schools in area


Western Center Academy in Hemet was recently named by U.S. News and World Report as the highest ranking public high school in southwest Riverside County in the publication’s 2019 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings.

The school, which serves 220 students in grades 6 through 12, was ranked No. 77 in the nation, No. 9 in California and No. 16 on the charter high school list.

The school has a focus on STEM curriculum – science, technology, engineering and math – according to its mission statement and puts students “through a combination of rigorous, accelerated coursework as well as opportunities for community service, project-based learning, educational outreach, technology integration and working with practicing scientists and engineers.”

The U.S. News rankings were developed with the research firm, RTI International, using six indicators – college readiness, college curriculum breadth, math and reading proficiency, math and reading performance, underserved student performance and graduation rates – to determine each school’s quality based on data from the 2016-2017 school year.

California led the list with 13 schools in the top 100 nationally, followed by Florida and New York. Whitney High School is the highest ranking school in California.

After Western Center, Great Oak High School was the next highest ranking school in the area, coming in at No. 1,164 nationally and No. 177 in California. Temecula Preparatory ranked No. 2,147 nationally and ranked No. 327 in the state.

Here is how other schools in the area ranked, according to the study:

Chaparral High School ranked No. 2,719 nationally and No. 408 in the state.

Temecula Valley High School ranked No. 3,122 nationally and No. 462 in the state.

Vista Murrieta High School ranked No. 3,273 nationally and No. 480 in the state.

Murrieta Valley High School ranked No. 3,429 nationally and No. 500 in the state.

Murrieta Mesa High School ranked No. 3,939 nationally and No. 568 in the state.

Paloma Valley High School ranked No. 4,636 nationally and No. 671 in the state.

Temescal Canyon High School ranked No. 5,092 nationally and No. 716 in the state.

Hemet High School ranked 5,258 nationally and No. 738 in the state.

West Valley High ranked No. 5,450 nationally and No. 756 in the state.

Lakeside High School ranked No. 5,458 nationally and No. 757 in the state.

Hamilton High School ranked No. 5,639 nationally and No. 777 in the state.

Elsinore High School ranked 6,060 nationally and No. 816 in the state.

Tahquitz High School ranked No. 7,231 nationally and No. 934 in the state.

Rancho Vista High School, Alessandro High School, Helen Hunt Jackson Alternative High School, Susan H. Nelson High School, Ortega High School and Tenaja Canyon Academy ranked significantly lower, according to the survey.

The rankings included 17,245 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

To read the entire report, visit www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/us-news-ranks-best-high-schools.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.