Public elementary and middle schools that earned U.S. News rankings in the top 30% in their state gained eligibility to display a U.S. News award “badge” (logo). In addition to the Best Elementary Schools and Best Middle Schools badges, there are also specialized badges for magnet and charter schools.

These U.S. News-trademarked badges are offered so that eligible schools can celebrate and promote their high rankings. Permission to use a Best Elementary Schools or Best Middle Schools badge in any medium – including websites, social media, signs, and advertisements – must be obtained in writing from BrandConnex, U.S. News’ licensing agent.

Eligible schools can purchase a license to display the badges, as well as plaques and banners featuring a badge, from BrandConnex’s Best Schools online store. Current or future rankings will not be affected by payment of this or any other fee.

For each state, schools were assessed on their pupils’ proficiencies in mathematics and reading, as measured by state assessment tests. Half of the ranking formula was the results themselves; the other half was the results in the context of socioeconomic demographics. In other words, the top-ranked schools are high achieving ones that succeeded in educating all of their students. All data for the rankings are from third-party sources, including the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. News has published state rankings for more than 47,000 public elementary schools and more than 23,000 public middle schools. Most schools with an elementary school ranking offer grades K-5 or K-6, while most with a middle school ranking offer grades 6-8 or 7-8. Some schools with wider grade spans were ranked in both categories.

U.S. News has published an in-depth methodology article that provides more information about the rankings and how they were calculated.
For questions or feedback about the Best Elementary Schools or Best Middle Schools rankings or badge eligibility, please contact