Below are profiles featuring the top 10 high schools in the Portland Metropolitan Area. In order to be featured as a Top High School, the school must have a 2010 Education.com TestRating of 10 out of 10. The TestRating compares a school's standardized test scores for a given year with scores from other schools in the same state. Find your school and see how it compares.
Beaverton School District 48J
Students typically attend Arts & Communication High School because of a strong skill and interest in one of the art areas offered, but admission to the magnet high school is gained solely through a lottery system. Students take eight courses at once, and have the option of signing up for an extended school day to take two additional courses.
The school offers pathways in nine different career areas: Dance, Music, Theater, Computer Design, Moving Image Art, Writing, Ceramics and Sculpture, Drawing and Painting, and Photography. The school focuses on providing specialized arts training while preparing kids for college -- 100 percent of graduates head to college or an art institute. The website states that the school is proud of having one of the large public school dance companies and award winning Jazz Instrumental and Classical Orchestras.
The school's mission statement details, “Arts & Communication Magnet Academy's disciplined educational environment challenges all students to achieve academic and artistic excellence by honoring and exciting the human need to create and question through a demanding and interdependent curriculum.”
Battle Ground School District
The small Cam Junior Senior High School, which only has two classes for each grade level, provides students with many opportunities to develop relationships and receive one-on-one attention. The administration feels their job is to prepare students for the job market after college through academic preparation and character training. The staff teaches students the importance of good character through monthly themes on a different character trait and daily conversations about character.
Parents are very involved on campus through volunteering and booster clubs, and the school encourages families to be very involved with their teenager through open communication between school and home.
The schools uses a four period block scheduling and offers core academic programs with a rigorous curriculum. The Running Start program allows students to receive an Associate of Arts degree at the same as a high school diploma through a local community college. As a graduation requirement, students develop an individual contract that gives them opportunities to pursue their passions and career interests, such as creating an aviary or developing a business plan.
“We are proud of our school and our kids. We just have really good kids,” said Colleen O’Neal, Principal.
Lake Oswego School District 7J
Walking through the hallways at Lake Oswego Senior High School, you will notice the quiet campus where students are focused on their studies. The school has a high level of school spirit, and students are very involved on campus.
The school offers many AP courses and boasts a high pass rate on the exams, which results in college credit for many students. Students can also select from a wide variety of electives, including specialized art and business courses.
To keep students well rounded, a host of activities are offered on campus, including an award-winning yearbook and newspaper. The speech team is competitive at the state level and the dance team often earns high honors in state competitions. One of every 10 students play in the band, and other musical programs are popular as well.
“We work really hard at having balance between fine and performing arts, academics and athletics,” said Principal Bruce Plato.
Lake Oswego School District 7J
If you visit Lakeridge High School, you might notice groups of students enjoying their lunch on picnic tables while other students play guitars or ukuleles for their friends. Lakeridge High School is located near a residential area outside of Portland, and the campus has a park-like feel. The school and the surrounding community interact on a regular basis, and the students also partners with residents at the nearby retirement center. Students volunteer at the center, invite the residents to school events, and use meeting space at the center for school events.
The school offers an academically challenging curriculum with many AP course and a wide array of electives, including Human Physiology and Robotics. World languages are important on campus and the school offers many choices, including Chinese and Japanese. The halls of the art wing are filled with student masterpieces and the sounds of the choir, band, and orchestra practicing can often be heard in the halls. Athletics are important on campus and golf, tennis and Lacrosse teams have all recently been successful.
“If you really want to be a place that teaches kids to be good global neighbors, they have to understand how to work alongside your real neighbors,” said Principal Mike Lehman.
Portland School District 1J
Lincoln High School focuses on college preparation and sends 89 percent of graduates to a two or four year college.
The school houses one of the two IB programs in the Portland area, and 17 percent of the students attend the school from outside of the base attendance zone specifically for the IB or International Studies Center. The International Studies Center provides interested students with a curriculum focused on world languages and global issues. Qualified students can also attend the Spanish Immersion program. An extensive list of electives is available for students, and the school offers language programs like Spanish, French, Mandarin, German, and Arabic.
Community service is stressed and several of the magnet programs include a community service component. Volunteer opportunities are available off campus through Hands on Portland and on school grounds weekly through work crews. Students can also mentor sixth graders over the summer in Outdoor School, where they learn about environmental issues.
Lincoln offers an array of sports teams that all have excellent reputations. Student can sign up for many different interest clubs including Advanced Gaming Club, Ultimate Frisbee Club, and Chess Club. Students can also help others though service clubs, such as Interact and Key Club.
Riverdale School District 51J
Instead of feeling like a typical high school, Riverdale High School has the atmosphere of a small liberal arts college. With a student body of only 250, students receive individual attention from teachers and stay with the same set of teachers throughout their four years. Instead of offering a wide range of courses, the school focuses on studying topics in-depth and teaching critical thinking.
The school works to incorporate real world learning opportunities to give students a chance to apply knowledge, such as going to a primate lab, visiting art galleries, attending plays, and observing surgeries in a hospital.
Seniors work with a mentor and other peers to complete and present a Senior Exhibition, which is a capstone project answering a question that is important to the student. The school stresses community service and while each student needs a minimum of 90 volunteer hours to graduate, the average is around 180 hours. The school uses a no-cut policy for sports teams and has a variety of extracurricular options, including jazz band and Model UN.
“Kids can be themselves here. When you look around, you notice that you can be any kind of kid at this school and be accepted,” said Jody Haagenson, Communications Director at Riverdale High School.
Beaverton School District 48J
Students must apply to attend this magnet school, where one can focus on science and technology while still receiving instruction in the humanities. A Focus teacher is assigned to each student to ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities and to provide a central point of contact for parents.
During their freshmen and sophomore years, students focus on basic core academic requirements in the “lower rotation.” During their junior and senior years, students can explore additional electives and also enroll in an internship program, where they work in a related career field each Friday. The school offers four AP courses and students can dual enroll at a local college for additional credit.
While sports and a marching band are not offered, the school does provide many other activities which students can participate in at their base school. At the campus, students can also play pickup basketball or join in the Frisbee team. Academic clubs are available, including science Bowl and Robotics along with service clubs, drama club and a Model UN team.
As stated on the school website, “All classes are designed to encourage thinking, knowledge, commitment to quality and excitement about learning.”
Sherwood School District 88J
The hallways at Sherwood High School showcase the student’s accomplishments, including course work, fliers for extracurricular events, athletic trophies, and academic awards. Sherwood works to keep students at the center of the school and make decisions that are best for the student body. As a cornerstone of the local community, the school hosts community musicals and athletic events which create a unique partnership.
The school gives a solid college preparatory foundation with a wide selection of AP courses available. The school is one of the few in the area that offer an Agriculture Science Program in which students can focus on animal science, horticulture, agriculture, floral design, and welding. Another unique class is the 3D art program that provides instruction in jewelry making.
Students can also select from a wide variety of interest clubs, such as Ballroom Dance Club, Cooking Club, and Ping Pong Club. The football team recently won a state championship, adding to the reputation of Sherwood's popular athletic programs, while the Future Farmers of America Club consistently earns high marks.
“SHS is truly a significant part of the Sherwood community. We have developed strong ties with parents, businesses, local government and other stakeholders.” said Michelle DeBoard, Principal.
Vancouver School District
Vancouver School of Arts and Academics is a magnet school for middle and high school students that focuses on learning through the power of ideas and critical thinking. Students learn to ask fundamental questions about evidence, connections, perspective, relevance, supposition, and transitions through their studies to develop high-level thinking skills.
The school works to create mixed grade classes and activities, especially in the arts classes, to help students learn from each other and relate to different ages. School activities are focused around a yearly theme, such as recent themes of Collaboration and Music of Cuba. Each year there is an academic focus, usually in the Humanities. Last year, for example, focus was U.S. history.
The AP program and honor courses are both strong, and the world language program also offers a variety of courses. With classes lasting 100 minutes, teachers are able to provide learning opportunities, such as Socratic seminars, lab experiences, and in-depth class discussions.
“We use a thematic approach across our school and make a concerted effort to help students learn through both the arts and academics,” said Principal James O'Banion.
West Linn-Wilsonville School District 3J
West Linn High School provides a challenging curriculum while providing many opportunities for students to explore outside the classroom.
The school offers many different AP classes Participation in the program is high with over 690 tests given in a recent school year. Over 86 percent the highly educated staff hold advanced degrees.
Many different clubs are active on campus, including the Astronomy Club, Art Club, and Young Advocates for Peace. Academic teams are also available including the Mock UN, which recently took home high honors at the state level. Performing arts are also strong -- the Thespian Club recently won statewide awards and several choral groups earn high marks at contests.
The school's mission statement details, “West Linn High School is a place where all stakeholders, staff, students and parents are committed to excellence through development of academics, character and service and leadership. West Linn High School will be a place where we can learn, grow and dream together.”
Please note that only schools in the following Oregon counties were considered for this article: Clakamas, Columbia, Multonomah, Skamania, Washington and Yamhill.