Niche: Woodlands Academy repeats as Illinois’ top all-girls high school

On the heels of its recent designation as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2020 by the U. S. Department of Education, comes word that Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart has received another overall grade of A+ in the just-released Niche 2021 high school rankings.

Once again, the Lake Forest school has gotten top marks when it comes to a faith-based education for young women. According to the 2021 rankings by Niche, an independent research company, Woodlands Academy repeats as the #1 Best All-girls High School in Illinois and the #1 Best Catholic High School in Illinois. This is the fourth year in a row that Woodlands has been ranked the #1 Best All-girls High School in Illinois.

Niche, a website for researching K-12 schools, scored Woodlands Academy highly on a variety of factors. These include SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratios, the quality of colleges students consider, and reviews from students and parents.

 “As Woodlands Academy continues to celebrate our National Blue Ribbon School status, I am so proud to again be ranked the best all-girls high school in Illinois,” Head of School Meg Steele said. “Our belief that empowered girls can change the world is an integral part of who we are and how we educate our students.”

The National Blue Ribbon School flag soon to be gracing the school’s building is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. The award it symbolizes affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. National Blue Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and a model for schools still striving for excellence. Now in its 38th year, this U. S. Department of Education program seeks out and celebrates great American schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. 

Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent, Catholic day-and-boarding, college-preparatory school for young women of all faiths grades nine through 12. It is part of a worldwide network of more than 150 Sacred Heart schools. 

Statistical data used in the 2021 high school rankings was obtained from a variety of sources including the U.S. Department of Education and then analyzed by Niche. For the complete rankings, methodologies and data sources, visit