5 Best Public High Schools in Queens, New York

Townsend Harris High School
••• Townsend Harris High School. Wikimedia Commons

Are you and your children planning to move to Queens? If you have teenagers, you'll want to start scouting out the best high schools in Queens to ensure that they get a good education.

Queens has more than 65 public high schools, so it's difficult to rate them because of the many variations. They schools range in size from a few hundred students to more than 4,000, and their curriculums span everything from college prep and international baccalaureate to vocational and aviation mechanics.

But it's a question asked often by our readers: What are the best high schools in Queens? The only answer that matters is the school that does the most for your teenager. We'll give you our best answer, but remember schools change and teachers differ and a parent is the best judge.

A Top-Rated High School in Queens

Townsend Harris High School in Flushing has long been considered a top high school in Queens, and the 2008 rankings of high schools by U.S. New and World Report confirmed its credentials. Townsend Harris was #45 on the list of 1,400 nationally ranked high schools, and the only Queens high school with a top-tier gold ranking.

Townsend Harris High School is a highly-selective magnet school that focuses on the study of the classics and humanities. Students have to study Greek and Latin. With only 1,000 students, Townsend Harris is a jewel in the public school system. The superlatives about Townsend stack up:

  • Graduation rate of 99%, the best graduation rate in NYC according to DOE stats released in 2007 (NY Daily News article "Head of the class," 5/22/07 ).
  • Top choice of high school in 2007 by more NYC 8th graders than any other high school in the city (NY Post article "Qns. high highest on students' lists," 5/20/07 ).
    • Received an "A" in December 2007 grading by DOE for a score of 82.9, the highest score for a high school in Queens (About.com blog post "NYC Schools Report Card - Queens Gets the Most A's," 11/7/07).
    • H.S. 525 Townsend Harris High School, 149-11 Melbourne Ave, Flushing, NY 11367, 718-575-5580, website

    More Top-Rated High Schools in Queens

    Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens, has long been considered one of the best neighborhood high schools in the borough. Its statistics don't match that of Townsend Harris, Bronx Science, or Stuyvesant, but unlike those magnet schools, Cardozo is a neighborhood school with 4,000 students. Though it does have competitive magnet programs in law, dance, science, and math (the DaVinci Institute), the majority of the students live in Cardozo's school zone. Local teens are not guaranteed a seat in this seriously overcrowded high school, but the school's success is one reason for the high real estate prices in Bayside.

    • Kudos for Benjamin N. Cardozo High School: It's one of the most popular high schools for 8th graders to apply to in NYC (NY Post article "Qns. high highest on students' lists," May 20, 2007 )
    • Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, 57-00 223rd St, Bayside, NY 11364, 718-279-6500, website

      In the 2007 U.S. New and World Report high school rankings honored five other Queens high schools. Long Island City's Academy of American Studies High School received a silver medal, and four more got bronzes.

      1. Queens High School for the Sciences at York College is a very selective, tiny, (372 enrollment), and fairly new school is on the campus of York College. In addition to the U.S. New and World Report honors, it received an "A" in 2007 Department of Education high school progress report, and has the third highest graduation rate in Queens (NY Daily News article "Head of the class," 5/22/07).

      • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, 94-50 159th St, Jamaica, NY 11451, 718-657-3181, website

      2. Aviation Career and Technical Education High School has a vocational focus, specifically on repairing and maintaining airplanes.

      Why would a technical high school receive such a high rankings from U.S. New and World Report? Because it achieves what it sets out to do. in Long Island City. This high school in Queens also received an "A" in the 2007 DOE high school progress report gradings.

      • Aviation Career and Technical Education High School in Long Island City, 45-30 36th St, Long Island City, NY 11101, 718-361-2032, website

      3. Gateway to Health Science High School offers a pre-med and science curriculum, and it's another high-performing, small and fairly new high school in Queens.

      • Gateway to Health Science High School, 150-91 87th Rd, Briarwood, NY, 11432, 718-739-8080, website

      4. Thomas A. Edison Vocational High School offers vocational training and college prep, an unusual range for one high school. While learning a trade, students also must pass Regents exams. The school's rankings for attendance, graduation, and academics are all above average, despite overcrowding (2,700 enrollment).

      • Thomas A. Edison Vocational High School, 165-65 84th Ave, Jamaica Hills, NY, 11432, 718-297-6580, website