Moving to the Austin area with your family? If you have a teenager, you’re probably looking into schools. Fortunately, Austin offers dozens of highly-ranked schools from preschool to high school. While many students will attend the local high school closest to where they live, some students and parents look to charter schools and special enrollment schools for their educational needs. Whatever you’re looking for in a school, here are the best high schools in Austin.
The Best High Schools in Austin
In Austin, there are several choices when it comes to high school education. There are several public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools that deserve a closer look. In general, students who attend public school will be assigned a school based on your address. There are several school districts in Austin including Leander, Round Rock, and Eanes. To attend a local high school, you’ll need to provide proof of address.
In addition, there are also special enrollment schools and charter schools that students can attend, even if they don’t live in the vicinity of the school. These schools typically take students after a rigorous application process that assesses previous academic performance and test scores. Here, we’ve broken down the best high schools in Austin based on public, charter, and special enrollment schools.
Public High Schools
Public high schools are popular in Austin and provide an exceptional education. Again, your student will attend the local high school based on your home address. If you’re moving to the area, it’s a good idea to check out schools in the neighborhood before making a decision. Here are the best public high schools in Austin.
Westlake High School
Westlake High School is part of the Eanes Independent School District (Eanes ISD). The school serves grades 9-12 and boasts an enrollment of 2,700 students. The public high school is focused on college-prep and is consistently ranked as one of the best 100 schools in the nation. Students are often invited to the National merit competition and the Presidential Scholars Program.
The school offers a wide range of Advanced Placement (AP) courses as well as career and technical programs. There’s also a special program for adults and students that are 19 years or older and looking to complete a high school degree. There’s also a state-f-the-art robotics facility and various athletic programs.
Westwood High School
Westwood High School is a great school in the Round Rock Independent School District. This high school offers several programs including Career and Technology, bilingual, Gifted and Talented, and Special Education. The school covers 9-12th grade focusing on global engagement and offering exposure to various college and career choices.
Vandegrift High School
Vandegrift High School is part of the Leander Independent School District and is ranked in the top 10% of all schools in Texas. The high school offers joint credit with Austin Community College, allowing students to earn college credits. The school offers more than 2 dozen AP classes and has a nationally recognized performing arts program.
James Bowie High School
James Bowie High School’s motto “pride in performance,” says it all. This school is focused on providing a learning atmosphere for all types of students with the aim of helping them succeed. The school also has an Equity Action Plan emphasizing diversity. This plan includes being committed to open dialogue with students on topics such as race, racism, and discrimination. Instructional materials provide diverse perspectives and history all year long — not just during specific months like Pride Month or Black History Month.
The school is located in southwest Travis County and has just under 3,000 students. Their dance team and theatre production company have received national accolades and students can also take courses in career and technology programs.
Lake Travis High School
Lake Travis High School belongs to the Lake Travis Independent School District. It serves the Bee Cave, Hudson Bend, and The Hills areas of Austin. During the school year, students can take part in more than 200 academic courses — 25 of which are Advanced Placement. Students can also join more than 50 clubs and organizations including fine arts and technology programs.
Dripping Springs High School
Dripping Springs High School has just over 2,000 students and 99% of them graduate on time or earlier. The school offers a highly-rated Careers and Technology Education program focused on robotics, engineering, and science. Students can also participate in extracurricular activities such as athletics, band, and choir.
Special Enrollment Schools
Special enrollment schools, or selective enrollment schools, provide career-oriented education. The specialized curriculum may focus on STEM subjects or the humanities depending on the school. These schools can be four-year high schools or they may also serve as middle schools and elementary schools.
Any student can apply, but getting in is very competitive. To attend a special enrollment school, students need to do well on standardized tests and have to attend interviews. They may also need to show excellent knowledge of certain subjects before being accepted. Here are some of the best special enrollment high schools in Austin.
Liberal Arts and Science Academy
The Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) is part of the Austin Independent School District (ISD). The school consistently ranks among the best in Texas and in the nation. It also shares a campus with the LBJ Early College High School.
The academy offers a wide range of subjects including robotics and stem cell research as well as construction management and visual and performing arts. The school has students from every zip code in Austin, so you can apply no matter what neighborhood you live in. To get in, students need to have excellent test scores and receive teacher recommendations. The school consists of students in ninth through twelfth grade.
Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders
The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is an all-girls public school. Also part of the Austin ISD, this school serves students from 6th to 12th grade. The school has an extensive history of helping students not only attend college but successfully complete it. In fact, the school boasts a 100% college acceptance rate, and of the students that attend college, 89% finish their college degrees.
In 2021, the school moved into a state-of-the-art facility, offering more opportunities for students to get the best education possible. The new building features several MakerSpaces and outdoor learning areas for students to collaborate and learn. The student body consists of around 900 students and the school focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Charter High Schools
Charter schools are publicly-funded educational institutions that are privately run. In Texas, most students can apply to any charter school, though some charter schools require students to be residents in a certain city or township. Austin has two exceptional charter schools, which we’ll discuss in more detail here.
Meridian School is a tuition-free public school that was opened by a group of families, looking to create a new space for students to learn. With almost 1,700 students, the school serves both primary and secondary school students. Not only does the school provide a quality education focused on the 10 International Baccalaureate learner traits, but they also offer support for learning and living a healthy life.
Meals at the school are made by a professional chef focusing on a healthy diet. There are also several outdoor spaces including an outdoor classroom, garden beds, and play areas for students to further their learning. In addition, the school composts and uses sustainable water practices, and provides after-school enrichment programs for students.
Find the Best High School in Austin For Your Family
Finding the best high schools in Austin isn’t just about reviewing school rankings. A high school’s rank is only one part of the equation. You’ll also want to evaluate the teachers at the school as well as the school’s offering. Both public schools and private schools offer extra-curricular activities as well as on-site benefits that can make or break your decision. The availability of certain subjects, advanced placement tests, college readiness scores, and graduation rates can also give you an idea of how successful a high school is.
It can help to make a list of what you’re looking for in a school or what your child wants. This list can include certain subjects, locations, and sports. Based on that list, you can start reviewing the top schools and see which one fits best.
If you’re moving to Austin or just arrived here, check out this list of the best neighborhoods. A real estate agent or realtor can also help guide you through the process and identify which areas are best to live in if you have your heart set on a particular Austin high school.