U.S. News & World Report ranked more than a dozen high schools in the East Bay among the best in the nation, according to first-ever ratings released Friday.

Contra Costa and Alameda counties each had seven schools on the list. Solano had one.

Piedmont High, one of only two East Bay schools to crack the top 100, came in at No. 68.

"It's really an honor," said Principal Randall Booker. He attributed the school's success to teachers, parents and staff throughout the town who make education a top priority. "This community has put schools first, and it really shows."

At Acalanes High, one of three Lamorinda campuses to win an honor, Associate Principal Jan Carlson praised stellar students and teachers. However, she said, everyone at the Lafayette school strives for excellence -- regardless of rankings.

"This is just a nice accolade, but it's not something that is the driving force for the work that's being done," Carlson said.

Nearly 1,600 high schools out of 18,790 analyzed in 40 states met U.S. News' criteria for great high schools, based on 2005-06 test data. The top 100 earned "gold medals." The following 405 received silver, and more than 1,000 won bronze.

California, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley high schools in the San Ramon Valley school district each picked up silvers, as did Acalanes, Campolindo and Miramonte high schools in the Acalanes school district. Foothill and Amador Valley in the Pleasanton school district earned silver medals, too.


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Gold and silver medal winners represent the top 3 percent of schools in the nation, according to the list.

"Certainly being in the top 3 percent is an honor," said Pleasanton Superintendent John Casey.

Albany High won a silver. Middle College High School in San Pablo, a part of the West Contra Costa school district, earned a bronze.

For years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked colleges, as well as graduate schools and other programs. This is the magazine's first ranking of high schools. The list will be included in the Dec. 10 edition of the magazine, which hits newsstands Monday.

At No. 49, Mission San Jose High in Fremont nabbed a spot in the top 100. Pacific Collegiate Charter School in Santa Cruz ranks No. 2.

U.S. News based its list on a variety of factors. The magazine evaluated college readiness as measured by state reading and math test results.

Analysts also looked at whether black, Latino and low-income students performed better than the statewide average for similar students.

Finally, the schools were rated on their advanced placement test participation rate and how high students scored on AP tests. Ten states did not submit or had insufficient test data.

Staff writers Eric Louie and Paul Thissen contributed to this story. Shirley Dang covers education. Reach her at 925-977-8418 or sdang@bayareanewsgroup.com.

top HIGH SCHOOLS

U.S. News & World Report has released its first national high school rankings. The top 100 schools out of 18,790 earned gold medals; the next 405 earned silver medals. More than 1,000 received bronze medals.

Alameda

  • GOLD: Mission San Jose (No. 49), Piedmont (No. 68).

  • SILVER: Alameda, Albany, Amador Valley, Foothill.

  • BRONZE: Alameda Community Learning Center

    Contra Costa

  • SILVER: Acalanes, California, Campolindo, Miramonte, Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley.

  • BRONZE: Middle College.

    Solano

  • BRONZE: Buckingham Charter

    ONLINE

    The U.S. News & World Report listing of the nation's top high schools is available online at http://www.usnews.com/highschools