Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has just been ranked the fourth-best high school in the entire nation by U.S. News and World Report.

For parents in Northern Virginia, TJ (as it is known locally) is already considered the best STEM school in the state. But with the new rankings from U.S. News and World Report, we now know that it's actually one of the top schools in the nation, coming in at No. 4!

An extremely competitive public high school in Alexandria, TJ boasts an extensive application process and curriculum that is both tough and cutting-edge. Students from all over the region want to attend this magnet school, which takes applicants from Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

Students are chosen each summer using an entrance exam, grade point averages, letters of recommendation, and an essay.

school hallway

U.S. News and World Report uses a number of factors to determine the top schools in the country. The main criteria are graduation rate, reading and math proficiency, participation in AP exams, and passing rate for AP exams. TJ scored 100 percent in all of these categories.

Additional consideration goes to the performance of underserved students. This includes "students who are black, Hispanic, and from low-income households," according to the ranking website.

student projects

Using graduation rate and overall college readiness, U.S. News and World Report ranked these schools at the top in all of Virginia:

The No. 1 spot goes to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. No. 2 is Langley High School in McLean,  No. 3 is McLean High School in McLean, No. 4 is Oakton High School in Vienna, and No. 5 is Open High School in Richmond.

To see how your school fared in the national rankings, visit the U.S. News and World Report website for the full list of results.

**All of the photos in this article are courtesy of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

What are your thoughts on this recent list of high school rankings? Let us know in the comments!