This story was updated at 5:44 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, with more information.
Four Hamilton County high schools are among the top 35 best high schools in Tennessee, according to the latest ratings of the 2020 Best Schools in America by the quality-of-life website Niche.
Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences - Upper School and Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts are both ranked among Tennessee's top 20 public high schools, ranking 14th and 16th, respectively.
The district's hallmark science, technology, engineering and mathematics magnet school, STEM School Chattanooga, ranks 27th and Signal Mountain Middle/High School is 31st.
"It is a combination of students, parents and teachers that make these types of recognitions happen," said Tony Donen, principal of the STEM School, in an email. "We are very grateful and appreciative of the efforts of each of these groups as they continue to have an extremely positive impact on student learning at STEM School Chattanooga."
Niche, a group that ranks public and private schools and places to live across the United States, compares 349 public high schools annually in Tennessee. Niche gives schools letter grades based on academics, food, administration, college prep offerings, health and safety, clubs and activities and more. Niche calculates the grades by gathering data, reviews, analysis and user insights.
"It's always exciting to receive recognition from Niche because the people determine the rankings," Jim Boles, principal of the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences - Upper School, said in a news release. "It's education's version of the 'People's Award.' Parents, students and alumni are the determining factors when it comes to Niche."
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the social isolation being used to slow the spread of the disease has helped highlight the resilience and strength of the school, Boles added.
"We knew before the isolation that our diverse school community was the backbone of what makes our school great, but to watch it come together as it has over the past three-plus weeks has been extraordinary.
"I wouldn't want to go through it with another group of people. I love our CSAS community," he said.
Of the top 35 schools, six are in Williamson County, which Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson has previously used as an example of the type of high-achieving school district that he wants Hamilton County to emulate. Three schools in Rutherford County appear in the top 30 and three schools from Knox County.
"As our district continues to reach new milestones under the leadership of Dr. Johnson, [Signal Mountain] is looking forward to moving up the Niche list as the amazing work and successes of our teachers and students continue to receive recognition," said the school's principal, Shane Harwood, in an email.
Contact Meghan Mangrum at email@example.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.
Top 35 public high schools in Tennessee
According to Niche, these are the top 35 public high schools in Tennessee:
1. Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, Metro Nashville Public Schools
2. Central Magnet School, Rutherford County Schools
3. Merrill Hyde Magnet School, Sumner County Schools
4. Brentwood High School, Williamson County Schools
5. Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School, Metro Nashville Public Schools
6. Ravenwood High School, Williamson County Schools
7. Farragut High School, Knox County Schools
8. Houston High School, Germantown Municipal School District
9. Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge School District
10. Franklin High School, Williamson County Schools
11. Collierville High School, Collierville Schools
12. Science Hill High School, Johnson City Schools
13. Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport City Schools
14. Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Hamilton County Schools
15. L&N STEM Academy, Knox County Schools
16. Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts, Hamilton County Schools
17. White Station High School, Shelby County Schools
18. University School, Washington County Schools
19. Greeneville High School, Greeneville City Schools
20. Maryville High School, Maryville City Schools
21. Centennial High School, Williamson County Schools
22. Rossview High School, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
23. Blackman High School, Rutherford County Schools
24. Beraden High School, Knox County Schools
25. Madison Academic Magnet High School, Madison County Schools
26. Morristown-Hamblen High School West, Hamblen County Schools
27. STEM School Chattanooga, Hamilton County Schools
28. Siegel High School, Rutherford County Schools
29. Cookeville High School, Putnam County Schools
30. Mt. Juliet High School, Wilson County School District
31. Signal Mountain Middle/High School, Hamilton County Schools
32. Independence High School, Williamson County Schools
33. Renaissance High School, Williamson County Schools
34. Arlington High School Arlington Community Schools
35. Gatlinburg Pittman High School, Sevier County School School System