Saturday, June 03, 2006
Some schools on Newsweek's list are indeed among the country's best. But many do not meet acceptable definitions of even average schools. Some schools on the list have high dropout rates, low graduation rates and low rankings in student achievement.
The magazine's ratings also are often inconsistent with results on college-entrance examinations, norm-referenced tests, criterion-referenced tests and analysis of dropout and graduation rates, all of which are generally accepted as measures of school effectiveness. Apparently, the Newsweek theory is to demonstrate how committed a school is to motivating students to take college-level courses, regardless of what all students achieve or fail to achieve.
Evidence of Newsweek's flawed system can be found right here in central Ohio, where these schools made the Web list, which is subject to change as new data is submitted:
Each of those schools also received the Ohio Department of Education's Excellent (call it an A) rating.
But examples of top schools not on the list include Dublin Coffman High School, New Albany-Plain High School and Thomas Worthington High School in Franklin County, Granville High School in Licking County, Bloom-Carroll High School in Fairfield County and Marysville High School in Union County, all of which also received the state's top rating. Newsweek overlooked them simply because lower numbers of students took the AP and IB tests and in spite of the fact that the schools' overall test scores were among the highest in the nation. Interestingly, the magazine ranked Columbus Centennial High School at No. 1,192, even though the school received an Effective (call it a B) rating from the state.
Because the Newsweek formula rewards participation rather than results, school-system leaders who have ensured that more students take rigorous courses by expanding AP and IB programs have been recognized for their efforts in expanding programs, and while that is a good thing, the formula also:
Regrettably, Newsweek has designed, published and promoted misleading information. Home buyers and parents seeking an answer to the question of identifying high-performing high schools would be wise not to depend upon its list.
is Distinguished Research Professor at the
University of Dayton and is President & Chief Executive Officer
of SchoolMatch®, a Columbus based educational auditing, research, data