Detroit Lakes High School has been named a 2021 Best High School by U.S. News and World Report, ranking 32nd in the state of Minnesota and 2,114th in the nation.

The rankings, released April 27, rank 17,857 public high schools across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, as well as charter, magnet, and STEM-focused schools (science, technology, engineering and math).

They take several factors into account, including student enrollment and diversity, college readiness, performance on state-required tests, reading and math proficiency, participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs, and graduation rates.

The latest ranking was a move upwards for the already highly-ranked Detroit Lakes High School, which placed 2,288th in the nation in 2020, and 49th in the state in 2018.

Josh Omang, who was hired as Detroit Lakes High School’s new principal in March, effective July 1, and who currently works for the school as its Freshman Academy coordinator and head football coach, said he believes the school will continue that upward trend in the future.

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“Our goal is to get as high as we can in that ranking,” he said.

He attributes the school’s high marks, at least in part, to its supportive and flexible staff, along with its recent career- and college-readiness efforts. Implementing the Freshman Academy model in the fall of 2017, he said, and really working with students to prepare them for life after high school, “put us on the map” in terms of U.S. News's annual rankings.

“It’s both the college and career stuff… doing some innovative and creative things, doing things a little bit different from the traditional model,” he said. “It takes a lot of work to do an innovative program and do something different; it takes a lot of risk. And that’s all stuff that our staff has been willing to do. I think that says a lot about our staff and their focus on kids and doing what’s best for kids.”

U.S. News notes Detroit Lakes High School’s Advanced Placement opportunities as a factor in its ranking, with 38% of the school’s 871 students (grades 9-12) taking at least one AP exam. High proficiency rates in math and reading are also noted, at 69% and 73%, respectively, as is the school’s 94% graduation rate, 21% minority enrollment and 27% economically disadvantaged enrollment.

The data used for the 2021 rankings was from the 2018-2019 academic school year, and was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Families can use the Best High Schools rankings to see how schools compare at the national, state and local level on factors like graduation rates and college readiness," said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News, in a press release. "The rankings also provide insight into academic performance among underserved groups."

The Best High Schools rankings are available on USNews.com. U.S. News worked with RTI International, a global research firm, to implement the ranking methodology.