Live and Learn
In the suburbs’ top public high schools, young adults gain the education and experience they need to thrive
by Staff

Tracts of bucolic countryside. A-plus health care facilities. An hour’s drive from one of America’s top cultural centers. Countless shopping and dining destinations. In addition to these quality-of-life perks, the Philadelphia suburbs boast an abundance of excellent public high schools. Not only are these institutions fostering academic growth but, through exceptional extracurricular enrichment and social activities, but they are also helping students become better prepared for life outside the classroom.

In our 2013 Public High Schools Report Card, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the top public high schools in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, using current data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and other reliable sources. The character of any school may not necessarily be best reflected in the ones and zeros, though such data can help determine a school’s grade in its ability to arm students with the tools they need to go forth and build a bright future.

Data comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics databases for 2012-2013 or the most recent year available. Suburban Life has used its best efforts to compile information for this list but does not guarantee that the information provided is complete or accurate.

High School                Student-to-Teacher Ratio
Lower Merion High School         10.79
Harriton High School of Lower Merion 10.80
Morrisville Borough High School     10.76
Harry S Truman High School     11.03
Springfield Township High School 11.07
Jenkintown Junior-Senior High School 11.10
Lower Moreland High School     11.59
Phoenixville Area High School     11.64
New Hope-Solebury High School     11.79
Chichester Senior High School     12.08
Bristol Junior Senior High School     12.26  
Penncrest High School         12.44  
Hatboro-Horsham High School     12.62
Strath Haven High School         12.78  
Wissahickon Senior High School     12.84
Cheltenham High School         12.94
Radnor Senior High School     13.15
Norristown Area High School     13.34
Great Valley High School         13.39
Garnet Valley High School         13.55
North Penn Senior High School     13.55
Pottstown High School         13.69
Upper Merion Area High School     13.72
Coatesville Area Senior High School 13.80
Interboro Senior High School     13.92
Academy Park High School     13.93
Marple Newtown Senior High School 14.13
Downingtown High School East     14.23
Owen J Roberts High School     14.24
Palisades High School         14.24
Downingtown High School West     14.41
Chester High School         14.46
West Chester East High School     14.49
Spring-Ford Senior High School     14.50
Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School 14.53  
Council Rock High School North     14.54
Methacton High School         14.56  
Upper Dublin High School         14.56
Upper Darby Senior High School     14.59
Pennsbury Senior High School     14.60
West Chester Henderson Senior High School 14.60
Neshaminy High School         14.63
West Chester Bayard Rustin High School 14.70
Upper Perkiomen High School     14.84
Unionville High School         15.07
Ridley High School             15.11
Haverford Senior High School     15.27
Council Rock High School South     15.29
Upper Moreland High School     15.48
Sun Valley High School         15.52
Penn Wood Senior High School     15.61
Quakertown Community Senior High School 15.67
Pottsgrove High School         15.71
Abington Senior High School     15.77
Bensalem High School         15.84
Conestoga Senior High School     15.86
Springfield High School         15.95
Avon Grove High School         16.19
Kennett High School         16.20
Pennridge High School         16.20
William Tennent High School     16.37
Central Bucks High School West     16.39
Oxford Area High School         16.40
Perkiomen Valley High School     16.57
Souderton Area High School     17.04
Central Bucks High School East     17.17
Central Bucks High School South     17.62

Above Standard
Following are the top 30 public high schools ranked by SAT scores (verbal, writing and math combined), as well as the percentage of seniors who go on to college upon commencement.

Harriton High School of Lower Merion
Combined SAT: 1769 | Total College Bound: 95.1%

Unionville High School
Combined SAT: 1752 | Total College Bound: 92.9%

Conestoga High School
Combined SAT: 1751 | Total College Bound: 69.4%

Lower Merion High School
Combined SAT: 1739 | Total College Bound: 90.6%

Radnor High School
Combined SAT: 1730 | Total College Bound: 92.5%

Great Valley High School
Combined SAT: 1712 | Total College Bound: 92.4%

Jenkintown Junior-Senior High School
Combined SAT: 1707 | Total College Bound: 79.2%

Upper Dublin High School
Combined SAT: 1705 | Total College Bound: 95.5%

Council Rock High School North
Combined SAT: 1684 | Total College Bound: 95.3%

Strath Haven High School
Combined SAT: 1667 | Total College Bound: 93.2%

Central Bucks High School West
Combined SAT: 1663 | Total College Bound: 91.7%

Central Bucks High School East
Combined SAT: 1659 | Total College Bound: 94.6%

Methacton High School
Combined SAT: 1658 | Total College Bound: 91.8%

Wissahickon High School
Combined SAT: 1648 | Total College Bound: 92.1%

Lower Moreland High School
Combined SAT: 1643 | Total College Bound: 94.2%

Downingtown High School East
Combined SAT: 1642 | Total College Bound: 95.6%

New Hope-Solebury High School
Combined SAT: 1635 | Total College Bound: 94.0%

Garnet Valley High School
Combined SAT: 1627 | Total College Bound: 91.2%

Downingtown High School West
Combined SAT: 1612 | Total College Bound: 88.4%

North Penn High School
Combined SAT: 1605 | Total College Bound: 88.8%

Council Rock High School South
Combined SAT: 1600 | Total College Bound: 93.8%

Penncrest High School
Combined SAT: 1600 | Total College Bound: 91.6%

West Chester Henderson High School
Combined SAT: 1588 | Total College Bound: 89.7%

Springfield Township High School
Combined SAT: 1579 | Total College Bound: 90.1%

Haverford High School
Combined SAT: 1577 | Total College Bound: 86.3%

Hatboro-Horsham High School
Combined SAT: 1576 | Total College Bound: 86.4%

Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School
Combined SAT: 1573 | Total College Bound: 89.2%

West Chester East High School
Combined SAT: 1571 | Total College Bound: 86.9%

West Chester Bayard Rustin High School
Combined SAT: 1568 | Total College Bound: 89.2%

Owen J Roberts High School
Combined SAT: 1562 | Total College Bound: 84.8%

Well Schooled
Following are the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) school-level proficiency results in mathematics and reading for 2012, ranked highest to lowest by combined score, for the top 25 public high schools in the four-county area surrounding Philadelphia. The figures below represent the percentage of each school’s student body with PSSA scores that were judged basic, proficient and/or advanced.

Conestoga Senior High School
Math: 97.7% | Reading:  99.2%

Downingtown High School East
Math: 97.2% | Reading: 98.3 %

Central Bucks High School East
Math: 95.6% | Reading: 98.5 %

Unionville High School
Math: 97.4% | Reading: 96.5%

Great Valley High School
Math: 96.2% | Reading:  97.6%

New Hope-Solebury High School
Math: 95.4% | Reading: 96.9%

Strath Haven High School
Math: 95.4% | Reading: 96.9%

Pennridge High School
Math: 94.7% | Reading: 95.8%

Upper Perkiomen High School
Math: 95.0% | Reading: 95.8%

Downingtown High School West
Math: 93.5% | Reading: 96.7%

Central Bucks High School West
Math: 94.0% | Reading: 95.1%

North Penn Senior High School
Math: 94.4% | Reading: 94.5%

Avon Grove High School
Math: 93.9% | Reading: 94.7%

Souderton Area Senior High School
Math: 91.5% | Reading: 96.7%

Lower Moreland High School
Math: 93.2% | Reading: 95.2%

Lower Merion High School
Math: 93.2% | Reading: 94.6%

Harriton Senior High School
Math: 93.8% | Reading: 93.9%

Central Bucks High School South
Math: 90.6% | Reading: 96.6%

West Chester Bayard Rustin High School
Math: 91.2% | Reading: 95.9%

Wissahickon Senior High School
Math: 91.2% | Reading: 95.9%

Springfield Township High School
Math: 90.4% | Reading: 96.2%

Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School
Math: 91.3% | Reading: 94.9%

Spring-Ford Senior High School
Math: 91.2% | Reading: 94.4%

Council Rock North High School
Math: 90.3% | Reading: 95.0%

Neshaminy High School
Math: 91.3% | Reading: 93.4%


Linked In
Public schools get increasingly connected by way of laptops and tablets

Students in public school districts throughout the country—big cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as smaller towns such as Beckley, W. Va. and Northfield, Minn.—are starting this school year with a shiny new device in their backpacks: iPads. All 655,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, will have a school-issued iPad for use in the classroom (and at home) by 2014.

Introducing laptops or tablets to the classroom has multiple benefits, administrators suggest. These include a more engaged student body, as well as greater interaction and collaboration among students and teachers; the ability to share ideas, materials and content through specialized apps; and a reduction in the number of physical textbooks students must carry, as some schools have opted for electronic textbooks in lieu of traditional hardbacks.

In essence, such initiatives should enhance students’ proficiency with computers in an increasingly technology-based society, thereby better preparing them for college and/or the workforce. Of course, iPads also come with their share of challenges, such as the risk of theft or abuse and ensuring that students are using the technology in a safe and responsible manner.

Classrooms in the Philadelphia suburbs are getting increasingly connected as well. In fact, some locally based schools have pioneered the use of school-issued computers. Lower Merion School District—home to Harriton High School and Lower Merion High School—established a one-to-one laptop program as far back as 2007, and of course many private schools—Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, for example—have embraced the idea of so-called “flipped classrooms.” It’s only a matter of time, experts suggest, before the rest follow in their footsteps. —Bill Donahue