Santa Monica and Malibu High Schools have been ranked two of the top 200 public high schools in the nation, according to Newsweek. Both are in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD).

The magazine’s article “Top of the Class,” in the May 28th issue, published a list of the top 1,200 public high schools in the U.S., and Santa Monica and Malibu made the slate.

Only five percent of the nation’s high schools landed their name’s on Newsweek’s list.

Santa Monica High School ranked 192nd and Malibu High School ranked 176th.

The school’s rankings were based on the number of Advanced Placements, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at the school in 2006, divided by the number of graduating seniors — so that big schools would not have an advantage over small schools.

Nineteen magnet and charter high schools with average SAT or ACT (American College Test) scores that “significantly” exceeded the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country were not included on the Newsweek list.

Instead, those schools were acknowledged on Newsweek’s “Public Elites” list.

District superintendent Dianne Talarico said she was pleased with the news.

“This report shows that SMMUSD’s schools have the perfect ingredients for success: high-caliber professional leadership at the school sites, students who reach for and attain academic achievement and involvement from the parents and community,” Talarico said. “We are extremely proud of our schools and the level of achievement they produce.”

Twenty-three California high schools made the top 200.

Last year, Santa Monica ranked 267th and Malibu 240th, and in 2005, Santa Monica ranked 197th and Malibu 188th.

School board vice president Oscar de la Torre said he thought Newsweek did a credible job in its report, and also said that to be ranked in the top 200 public high schools in the nation is a strong indicator that Santa Monica and Malibu High Schools are in pretty good shape.

“I think it’s great news,” de la Torre said. “There are more than 1,000 school districts in the state of California alone, so that’s pretty significant. “This [achievement] just validates the good work we’re doing on the school board and the more important work being done in the classroom.

“We should all be proud.”