A U.S. News & World Report analysis ranked Ashland High School and South Medford High School in the top 10 percent of the nation's secondary schools.
Out of the nearly 20,000 public high schools nationwide to be included in the survey, Ashland and South Medford were ranked at 1,267 and 1,861, respectively, earning both schools the coveted silver medal. This is Ashland's fifth silver medal and South Medford's first.
"We never take it for granted," said AHS Principal Michelle Zundel. "We never rest on our laurels. We realize that we are meeting more rigorous demands with status quo staffing and a discretionary budget that keeps getting cut. I am awed by the Ashland High School staff who were able to increase our standing."
In 2012, Ashland was ranked the 15th best school in the Oregon by U.S. News & World Report. But this year, it is considered the 12th best school in the state, and South is the 26th.
Seventy-seven of Oregon's 287 high schools were awarded medals, including four gold, 22 silver and 51 bronze. Crater Renaissance Academy and Rogue River Junior/Senior High were awarded bronze medals.
U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research, followed a three-step process to determine the nation's best high schools.
First, researchers looked at how students fared on state proficiency tests while factoring in the number of "economically disadvantage students" enrolled in the school. Then, they compared how minority and low-income students at the school performed compared to similar students statewide. And finally, they measured Advanced Placement participation and scores to determine how well the school prepares students for college.
— Teresa Thomas