When the national spotlight turns to Texas public education, it's often not flattering. But schools in the state ruled Newsweek's annual Best High School List — including two Dallas ISD magnets that claimed the top spots. 

Dallas ISD's School of Science and Engineering and School for the Talented and Gifted ranked first and second on the 2011 list; both have been in the top five for the past four years.

14 Texas schools made the top 100 of the 500-long list, including Irving's North Hills Preparatory and Houston's Carnegie Vanguard at 10 and 11 and Austin's Liberal Arts and Science Academy at 21. By comparison, New Jersey and California had 7 in the top 100. New York had 15.

Here's Newsweek on their methodology:

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Rather than focus, as in the past, on one metric (AP tests taken per graduate), we consulted a group of experts — Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America; Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Open Education Solutions and the former executive director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford professor of education and founder of the School Redesign Network — to develop a yardstick that fully reflects a school’s success turning out college-ready (and life-ready) students.

These are challenging times for secondary education. Cash-strapped school districts are cutting back; No Child Left Behind mandates test results; parents and students fret incessantly. This Waiting for ‘Superman reality craves solutions, and so NEWSWEEK, which has been ranking the top U.S. high schools for more than a decade, revamped its methodology for 2011 in the hopes of highlighting some.

Our new criteria have six components: graduation rate (25%), college matriculation rate (25%), and AP tests taken per graduate (25%), plus average SAT/ACT scores (10%), average AP/IB scores (10%), and AP courses offered per graduate (5%).

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