For families who have children between the ages of fourteen and seventeen that are looking to move either to or within Salt Lake City, schools are a critical factor in the decision-making process.
This is especially true for students entering high school, a time where young adults are beginning to slowly transition towards post-secondary education before eventually entering the workforce and full-time careers. It is integral to find a high school that is positively reviewed, has dedicated and passionate teachers, and offers a wide range of both curricular and extracurricular programs to give your child the best chance of success after graduation.
Niche.com has put together a fantastic guide of the top High Schools in Salt Lake City for 2018-19 using rigorous analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from both parents and students. They also used a wide variety of data directly from the U.S. Department of Education. Ranking factors include teacher quality, district quality, state test scores, student to teacher ratio, and student diversity.
Using that ranking guide provided a solid backbone upon which to create the following list that showcases the top-rated high schools in Salt Lake City, Utah:
1. Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science (AMES), Salt Lake Public School District
Located in the southern part of Salt Lake City, the Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science (AMES) is arguably the best high school overall within Salt Lake City. Students consistently perform 15-20% above state averages, excelling in English, Math, and Science. With just under 500 students currently enrolled, it is also one of the smaller high schools in Salt Lake City.
AMES students really take advantage of AP courses, as over 80% of those enrolled take advanced classes - compared to just 18% on average across the rest of Utah. Some courses from the University of Utah are also offered to students. With a low 18:1 student-teacher ratio, students really receive a ton of individual attention.
2. Salt Lake School For The Performing Arts, Salt Lake City Public School District
Despite having average test scores overall, this relatively small niche high school receives a ton of praise from its 300 or so students. With a clear focus and dedication towards the arts, the Salt Lake School For The Performing Arts provides students a safe and fun atmosphere to hone their craft.
The sense of community is second to none, and all staff members do a great job combining academics and the love of performing art. Students are provided with college-level drama and music classes by high school instructors who are among the best in the business.
It was recently voted the best Charter School in all of Utah, an extremely prestigious honor. With no extra tuition costs, students from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds have a chance to pursue their love of the arts.
3. West High School, Salt Lake City Public School District
West High School is located in the heart of Salt Lake City and currently has over 2,300 students enrolled - making it one of the biggest high schools in Utah. Students usually do quite well academically, routinely scoring around 10-15% above state averages in English while coming just above typical performances in Science and Math.
Despite having such a large number of students in attendance, the student-teacher ratio is right at the state average (23:1). West High School also has one counselor per 400 students, nearly double the average for other high schools across Utah.
The teaching staff is quite experienced, as 100% of the faculty has 3+ years of experience - well above average compared to other high schools. With a flexible AP program and many clubs, teams, and other extracurricular activities available to students, West High School has something to offer everyone.
To top things off, there is a unique blend of racial and socioeconomic diversity that encourages a sense of belonging and acceptance - there is a ton of school spirit and an unmistakable sense of community.
4. Brighton High School, Salt Lake City Public School District
Brighton is another large high school, as it currently has over 2,100 students enrolled. Located at 2220 East Bengal Blvd. in the southeastern part of Salt Lake City, Brighton routinely outperforms the state-wide academic averages in Math, English, and Science.
Students with disabilities also see increased academic performances at Brighton when compared with similar programs offered throughout Utah. The student-teacher ratio is definitely quite reasonable for such a large school, as it currently sits at 24:1 - barely above the state average.
For athletes, Brighton’s sports-teams routinely excel against other high schools and consistently are in the hunt for city championships. Many students give high praise to the AP programs offered here as well, although the math and science options are both extremely challenging.
5. Olympus High School, Salt Lake City Public School District
Offering courses to students in grades 10-12, Olympus High School currently has about 1,500 young adults enrolled. Although they fall a bit under state averages academically, Olympus has some of the best sports/athletics departments in all of Salt Lake City.
There is certainly no shortage of school spirit and many ex-students rave about how much they enjoyed their time here. “Oly”, as many students refer to it as, also likely has the most extracurricular clubs to choose from as well. Access to these programs really promotes a sense of discovery and creates a balanced lifestyle for teens before they move on to post-secondary institutions or enter the workforce.
In short, Olympus makes sure to guide their students to give them the best chance of succeeding in the next chapter of their lives after high school graduation.
6. Skyline High School, Salt Lake City Public School District
Skyline High School is located in southeastern Salt Lake City. Offering courses from grades 9-12, Skyline has around 1,500 students currently enrolled in classes.
Academically, the school performs fairly close to state averages - except in English, where students really seem to excel. Around 50% of those attending Skyline participate in AP classes, which is very high compared to other schools across Utah.
The student-teacher ratio of 24:1 is very close to average, while the number of counselors per student is quite high compared to other high schools in Salt Lake City (one counselor per 400 students). While some students struggle with some of the faculty in the Science and Math departments, the English and History departments are extremely well-liked and widely considered one of the best in the city.
Students also have a wide variety of sports and clubs to choose from as well.
7. Salt Lake Center for Science Education, Salt Lake City Public School District
As the name suggests, this high school is known best for its science department - and it shows academically. Students here routinely score 20%+ higher than the statewide high school average in Science.
With extremely small class sizes (17:1 student-teacher ratio, almost six students per class less than the Utah average) and an extremely knowledgeable faculty, the Salt Lake Center for Science Education is the place to go if you love Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. Although lacking in clubs and teams, the school does offer a wide array of unique programs in association with the University of Utah - including a ton of hands-on learning, field trips, and participation in college-level research projects like “Hawk Watch”.
SCLSE currently has just under 400 students, giving it a family-like feel that is often missing at many larger high schools throughout the city that have 2,000+ students enrolled.
8. Highland High School, Salt Lake City Public School District
Highland High School is located at 2166 South 1700 East in Salt Lake City and has over 1,600 students currently enrolled in Grades 9-12. The school performs just below average in terms of statewide proficiency tests, however, does have a lot of AP course participation - almost double the average across the rest of Utah.
It also has a low student-teacher ratio as well as a low student-counselor ratio. Spirit Week at Highland is always a big hit with students, while 85% of them agree that there are plenty of clubs and organizations for them to get involved in.
9. City Academy, Salt Lake City Public School District
With barely 200 students currently enrolled, City Academy is a small high school that offers courses to students from Grades 7-12. Performing around the state average in terms of English, Math, and Science, students at City Academy enjoy one of the best student-teacher ratios in all of Utah - 14:1.
The smaller classroom sizes allow for plenty of one on one attention and is definitely a big draw for prospective students. The smaller, community-like atmosphere also creates a safe, comfortable environment for students - many have commented on the lack of bullying and how much they enjoy attending a school that has such a positive environment overall.
City Academy also has a stellar Theatre department- much of the first floor of the school is dedicated to the Arts.
10. Cottonwood High School, Salt Lake City Public School District
Located in the southern part of Salt Lake City, Cottonwood High School has an extremely diverse student body consisting of nearly 1,500 students. Although certainly not the best school in terms of academic performance, Cottonwood made this list due to their unique school community that promotes inclusion and acceptance of students who come from a wide variety of nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
There are many school-sanctioned events throughout the year that aim to highlight various cultures, traditions, and belief systems. This really helps students to broaden their horizons while also allowing them to see and understand the world better as a whole.
There are over two dozen languages spoken by students who attend Cottonwood, while the faculty and staff does a wonderful job of making everyone feel at home. A food pantry initiative was also recently started to help provide healthy food to students who are in need.
Cottonwood also has an excellent music program and a baseball that routinely is a top-performer in the entire state.
The Salt Lake City, Utah area certainly provides a number of exceptional high schools that have a wide variety of unique programs for students in grades 9-12. It is fairly easy to find a school in the Salt Lake area that provides courses or extracurricular activities tailored specifically to your child's strengths.
From Science, Math & Engineering, Athletics, and the Performing Arts, Salt Lake City truly has so much to offer young adults at the high school age. Although this list is quite comprehensive, it only covers 10 out of over 55 high schools in the greater Salt Lake City area - there is certainly no shortage of education options.
If you are considering a move to or within the city, please contact the Harvest Park Group today for assistance in making the best choice for your family. We have in-depth neighborhood guides and pride ourselves in providing the best available information to help you make an informed decision.
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