Culture / Newsy

The Best Private Schools in Texas

Controversial New Rankings Aim to Settle an Elite Houston vs. Dallas Debate


School rankings always provoke debate and often spur questioning that challenges the results. No one wants to see their favorite institution of learning outdone. But when you throw in the prestige, powerful alumni and sheer wealth of private high schools into the equation, it reaches a whole other level.

A new ranking of the best private schools in every state in America cuts right to the heart of it when it comes to Texas.

It is Dallas’ storied St. Mark’s School of Texas vs. Houston’s beloved St. John’s School. In the end, St. Mark’s just edges out St. John’s for the No. 1 overall spot in Texas. The difference in these rankings essentially come down to St. Mark’s earning an A- in Student Culture & Diversity, while St. John’s settled for a B in that category.

In talking diversity, it should be noted, however, that St. Mark’s is an all-boys school while St. John’s welcomes girls and boys.

In all the other major ratings points — Academics, Educational Outcomes and Teachers —both schools get an A+ every time. Overall, both St. Mark’s and St. John’s are rated as A+ schools as well. Of course, none of this will stop St. Mark’s backers from exulting.

And how must Houston’s rightfully vaunted Kinkaid School feel? It is “down” at No. 8, thanks in large part to the C grade it received for Extracurriculars.

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Overall, these new rankings from Niche, the rankings and review giant, show that Texas is doing very well for itself when it comes to private-school power. And predictably, the best of best are dominated by Houston and Dallas schools. Sorry Austin, your private-school game is not quite up to the level of the state’s traditional power centers.

Dallas and Houston combine to take 20 of the top 25 spots in the Best Private Schools in Texas rankings.

The Dallas area boasts three of the top four schools in the state and nine of the Top 25. The Hockaday School (No. 3 overall in Texas), Cistercian Preparatory School (No. 4), Greenhill School (No. 7), Jesuit College Prep School (No. 18), Trinity Valley School (No. 19), Ursuline Academy of Dallas (No. 20), Episcopal School of Dallas (No. 21) and Yavneh Academy of Dallas (No. 25) join St. Mark’s in this Metroplex power flex.

Strake Jesuit Preparatory School (No. 10), The Awty International School (No. 11), The John Cooper School in The Woodlands (No. 12), St. Agnes Academy School (No. 14), The Emery/Weiner School (No. 16), The Village School (No. 17), St. Stephen’s Episcopal School (No. 22), Duchesne Academy (No. 23) and The Woodlands Preparatory School (No. 25) combine with St. John’s and Kinkaid to give greater Houston 11 spots on the list, the most of any Texas city.

In the end, the rankings don’t matter as much as a student’s experience. Education isn’t supposed to be about bragging rights or who comes from a “good family.” The  best private schools are not just bastions of exclusivity, power and the offsprings of rich tycoons.

They’re places where often innovative and life-changing education can take place. Texans are well off in this respect. As long as they can get into one of these schools.

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