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Two Prominent Lists Rank SMMUSD Highly Among L.A. and California Districts

The High Rankings Come Amid Efforts to Separate SMMUSD and Establish an Independent Malibu Unified School District

By Zach Armstrong

Two prominent rankings have put the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District near the top as one of the best education networks across L.A. and California.

Last week, academic ranking service Niche put out its 2024 Best School Districts in California. The list ranked 504 school districts based on state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT and ACT scores, teacher quality, and public school district ratings, among other factors. SMMUSD ranked 6th on that list among L.A. County districts and 13th across California. Niche also ranked SMMUSD 15th in the best places to teach in California and 10th for best teachers in the state.

Around the same time, another significant list put some of SMMUSD’s schools above many others in California, and even across the U.S. 

In its 2024 Best High Schools list, U.S. News & World Report ranked Santa Monica High School 48th among all Los Angeles and Orange County high schools, 120th in California and 850th in the country. Malibu High School also scored prominently. It ranked 26th among L.A. metro schools, 77th in California and 573rd nationally. 

“As we look ahead, our focus remains on prioritizing the well-being and academic success of our students, while nurturing an environment conducive to their social-emotional growth,” Superintendent Dr. Antonio Shelton said in a news release. “Our dedication to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, and cultivating a sense of belonging, curiosity and empowerment for all within SMMUSD, will continue to shape a vibrant and inclusive educational environment.”

The high rankings come amid efforts to separate SMMUSD and establish an independent Malibu Unified School District. Earlier this month, those efforts reached a pivotal milestone when a tentative agreement on revenue sharing was reached. As of April 17, the agreement awaits approval by both the Malibu City Council and the SMMUSD Board of Education.