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Culture / Newsy

The Highest-Rated Private Schools in Texas Give One City a Clear Edge

New Rankings Ensure Controversy and Plenty of Elite Drama

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Private high schools are notoriously competitive. High-powered alums, high-dollar tuition fees and the high-stakes competition for the best students makes for an intoxicating and often combustible mix. If you thought all the private elementary school drama in HBO’s Big Little Lies was ridiculously over the top… well, you may not have spent much time in a school lately.

In the real world of private schools, rankings matter. And one Texas high school school is on a rankings run that even Alabama coach Nick Saban might appreciate. (Only, it largely involves academics.)

The new 2018 Best Private High Schools rankings are out and Dallas’ St. Mark’s School of Texas has nabbed the No. 1 spot in the state. Again. The storied all-boys school is 17th in the country overall. These annual rankings come from Niche, the rankings and reviews giant, and are based on factors such as SAT/ACT scores, the quality of the colleges that students get into, student-teacher ratio and “millions” of reviews from students and parents.

The newest stats show that Dallas’ private schools are doing very well for themselves. Besides St. Mark’s School, there’s the Hockaday School at No. 2 and Greenhill School (in nearby Addison) at No. 3 in the state. You have to go to No. 4 to hit the first Houston school that’s ranked — St. John’s School.

What do the three Dallas private schools have that the rightfully vaunted St. John’s lacks? Allegedly diversity. For while St. John’s receives A-pluses for academics, college prep, teachers, and clubs & activities — and even an A-minus in sports — its C-plus diversity ranking holds it back in the overall rankings.

Of course when you consider that an all-boys school is ranked No. 1 in Texas, it’s fair to wonder if true diversity is actually celebrated in these rankings.

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Entrance facade of Flores Hall, St. John’s School

Of course, St. John’s isn’t going to be hurt by placing fourth in Texas. Just like its sometime rival The Kinkaid School has little reason to sweat its No. 7 ranking. After all, the margins between the elite schools at this level can be razor thin. Kinkaid receives an A-plus or an A in every major rankings category except for diversity, where it gets a B-minus.

It’s fair to wonder if the parents who pay Kinkaid’s $25,000 yearly tuition even consider this a factor.

Dallas School Power

Dallas boasts the top three schools in the state and 10 of the Top 25. Cistercian Preparatory School (No. 8), Episcopal School of Dallas (No.13), Jesuit College Prep School (No. 17), Trinity Valley School (No. 19), Ursuline Academy of Dallas (No. 20), Fort Worth Country Day School (No. 22) and Yavneh Academy of Dallas (No. 25) join St. Mark’s, Hockaday and Greenhill in this Metroplex power flex.

St. Agnes Academy School (No. 9), Strake Jesuit Preparatory School (No. 10), The Awty International School (No. 11), The Emery/Weiner School (No. 14), The Village School (No. 15), The John Cooper School in The Woodlands (No. 18), and Bellaire’s Episcopal High School (No. 21) join St. John’s and Kinkaid to give the Houston area nine representatives in the Top 25.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School (ranked fifth in Texas) comes in as the highest-rated Austin private school, while Keystone School (No. 6 in the state) tops all the San Antonio schools.

As hotly debated — and obsessed over — as rankings are, the truth is that any kid attending one of these top-rated, major-dollar elite private schools has already won the lottery of life in many ways. Which doesn’t stop anyone from wanting to be declared No. 1.

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