Number 66!

That's where Philadelphia's prestigious Julia R. Masterman High School ranks among high schools nationwide.

Masterman again made the list of top high schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. The magazine looked at state test scores, paying special attention to scores of minority and low-income students. It also counted college readiness, as judged by Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate test data.

Masterman principal Marjorie Neff was jubilant yesterday, and not at all fazed by the fact that the magnet school had slipped, down from 53d last year.

The magazine relied on data from the 2006-07 school year, and Neff said Masterman students improved scores last school year.

"I know last year our AP exams were better, so I expect we'll be moving up in the rankings [next year]," Neff said. "I'm thrilled that we continue to represent Philadelphia and the quality of education in the Philadelphia public schools."

Neff first got word when a parent phoned the school to alert her to the news.

But Neff planned to make an announcement later in the school day - a bit of great news before the end of the week.

"They'll all know when they go home for the weekend," Neff said.

Masterman was the only area school on the magazine's Top 100 list, a change from last year, when Berwyn's Conestoga High was ranked the 79th best school. This year it slipped to the magazine's second-tier list.

In addition to Conestoga, other area schools were on the "silver" (504 high schools) and "bronze" (1,321 schools) lists.

In Bucks County, Central Bucks East and West both earned silver designation. In Delaware County, Radnor High took silver. In Montgomery County, Lower Merion and Harriton earned silver and Abington took bronze. In Chester County, Conestoga and Great Valley landed on the silver list. Among Philadelphia high schools, Central earned silver and Carver, Bodine and Girls Highs took bronze.

In New Jersey, Camden's Brimm Medical Arts and High School of the Creative and Performing Arts earned bronze distinction. So did Camden County Technical School in Pennsauken.