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US News ranked the nation’s high schools, and three Iowa City schools made the list

Mitch Gross, Iowa City West principal, stands outside his office in the hallway during a passing period amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, at West High School in Iowa City, Iowa. Masks are required in the school building.

Iowa City West is the top public high school in Iowa according to a .

The U.S. News and World Report’s Best High School rankings for 2024 assess the quality of public high schools based on several key metrics, each weighted differently. These metrics include college readiness and college curriculum breadth, state assessment proficiency and performance, underserved student performance, and graduation rate.

The study ranked the top high schools in the state and nationwide. Three Iowa Iowa City Community School District schools cracked the top 10.

West High School received an overall score of 96.45 out of 100, making it the top high school in Iowa and 626th nationally out of 25,000 public high schools. It is the third consecutive year that West High School has been the top high school in Iowa. Liberty High School was ranked fifth in Iowa while Iowa City High School came in at No. 10.


West High graduates gather for their commencement ceremony at the Xtream Arena in Coralville on Saturday, June 3, 2023.
West High principal Mitch Gross speaks welcomes students to their commencement ceremony at the Xtream Arena in Coralville on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

Several factors aid annual rankings

Iowa City West’s scores were calculated by considering the following categories. The Trojans’ percentages are included in parentheses.

How many students have taken at least one AP Exam (72%)

How many have passed at least one AP Exam (58%)

How many students are proficient in mathematics according to state assessments (73%)

How many students are deemed proficient in reading according to state assessments (77%)

How many students are deemed proficient in science according to state assessments (64%)

Graduation rate (94%)

West High School is one of five high schools (including online students and Tate High School) in the .

West High School has a student body of 1,503 students in grades 9-12. Mitch Gross has been the school’s principal for the past four years. He taught AP U.S. History and American Government at West High for 15 years prior to becoming principal.

West High School has a minority enrollment of 53.4%, according to the report, making it one of the most diverse high schools in Iowa.

“We’re proud of our diversity, and we’re proud that our diversity makes us better, and it’s a big reason why we are where we are from a ranking perspective,” Gross said. “It’s a testament to our dedicated staff, hard-working students, and supportive families. You need all those factors to come together to have a successful school, and we’re very fortunate to have all three of those aspects.”

Liberty High cracks top 5, City High is 10th

and also cracked Iowa’s top 10 list.

Liberty High School was fifth, with a score of 91.19. Iowa City High rounded out the top 10 with a score of 87.64.

“We are incredibly proud that all three of our comprehensive high schools have been named among the top 10 high schools in Iowa,” said Matt Degner, superintendent of Iowa City Community School District. “This recognition is a testament to the excellence in education and dedication found in the Iowa City Community School District. It reflects the hard work of our students, the expertise of our educators, and the support of our community.”

Nearby Williamsburg High School is ranked ninth thanks to a score of 88.38.


Iowa’s top 10 high schools according to U.S. News and World

1. West High School (96.45)

2. Gilbert High School (94.36)

3. Pella High School (93.92)

4. Decorah High School (93.78)

5. Liberty High School (91.19)

6. Ankeny High School (91.16)

7. Adel DeSoto Minburn (ADM) High School (90.12)

8. Pleasant Valley High School (88.98)

9. Williamsburg Junior-Senior High School (88.38)

10. Iowa City High School (87.64)

Jessica Rish is an entertainment, dining and business reporter for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. She can be reached at or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rishjessica_