THREE TIMES BEFORE, in November 1996, November 2001, and November 2002, we’ve published a list of the top public schools in Texas. Those stories were enormously popular with our readers, which is why we’re going back to the well again. As was the case previously, the architects of this effort to identify the best elementary, middle, and high schools are the number crunchers at the Austin-based National Center for Educational Accountability (formerly Just for the Kids), a research arm of the University of Texas. By analyzing how students fare in measurable curricular areas—reading, writing, math, science, and social studies—and taking the demographic makeup of the student body into account, NCEA’s crack team is able to proclaim worthy schools “higher performing.” Not every school is measured in every area, but the more areas in which a school is deemed higher performing, the better that school is. On our Web site,, as well as the NCEA’s Web site,, you’ll find a detailed explanation of the methodology behind the rankings and a raft of statistics that are undeniably valuable but too complicated to reproduce here. Suffice it to say that if your school is on the list, you and it have a lot to be proud of. If it isn’t, well, get back to work! And better luck next year.