Missoula’s Hellgate High School made U.S. News and World Report’s list of top high schools in Montana this week. The school is one of just two AA schools in the state to make the ranked list. Missoula County School District One Superintendent Mark Thane praised the students.

"We are really proud of the accomplishment of the Hellgate students and certainly the staff that supports them," Thane said. "Seeley-Swan high School also achieved recognition from U.S. News and World Report, which is, of course,a smaller school in our district. The metric that U.S. News and world report uses has changed in the last number of years  taking into account socio-econonomic status and student performance in relation to socio-economic status."

While Hellgate made the list as the sixth best high school in Montana, local rivals Big Sky High School and Sentinel did not make the list. Thane was asked if the rankings prove that Hellgate High School is just better than the others.

"I would not say that, necessarily, you know we have the same essential curriculum offerings at all schools and I think they are very comparable," Thane said. "I think if you look at the metrics of the other schools we have schools that compare very favorably to Hellgate. You take in a diversity of data points when you make a comparison like this."

U.S. News and World reports put out an explanation of their metric, saying "that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators." A full analysis of the data points included can be found on the U.S. News and World Report website.

The rankings are based on a number of factors including ACT scores and graduation rates. Gardiner High School took first place in the state followed by Lone Peak High School and Stevensville High School in the top three.