Apr 28, 2022 - News

Philly's Julia R. Masterman Secondary School ranks among best in U.S.

Julia R. Masterman Secondary School
Julia R. Masterman Secondary School. Photo courtesy of the School District of Philadelphia

Julia R. Masterman Secondary is not only the best public high school in Pennsylvania, but it also cracked the top ranks in the U.S., according to a new report.

Driving the news: The district magnet school in North Philadelphia ranked No. 10 in the country in the 2022 Best U.S. High Schools list from U.S. News & World Report.

  • Masterman, which was ranked 18th in the U.S. in 2021, was the only Pennsylvania school to be ranked among the top 10 in the nation in this year's list.

How it works: The publication reviewed 24,000 public high school across the country and ranked about 18,000 based on a variety of factors, including college readiness, graduation rates and state testing.

Zoom in: Masterman beat out more well-funded school districts in the surrounding suburbs to retain its No. 1 ranking in the state for a second year in a row.

  • Central High School, another city magnet school, ranked No. 5 in Pennsylvania.
  • Downingtown STEM Academy in Downingtown, No. 44, was the only other Pennsylvania high school to be ranked among the top 100 best high schools in the nation.

Details: Masterman, whose admissions are criteria-based, is among the most selective in the city and has 460 high school students.

  • The school's 98% graduation rate is far above the district graduation average of 75% last year.
  • Masterman also serves middle school students in grades 5-8.

Between the lines: Significant disparities separate Masterman from the district as a whole.

  • 100% of district students are economically disadvantaged, compared to 38% at Masterman.
  • Masterman's demographics also are not representative of the city, where African American students made up 16% of the school's population but 52% of the district as a whole.

What they're saying: Masterman Principal Jeannine Hendricks Payne tells Axios the school's success was fueled by sustained support for students, hard work from staff, past leadership, and engagement from families.

  • Payne added the school will seek to maintain its high standards in the face of ongoing challenges during the pandemic.
  • "Whatever it is we've been doing right, we want to hold on to and whatever we can do better in the face of change that is ever happening, we'll incorporate it," she says.
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