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  Brain-dead Newsweek high school rankings

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Author Topic:   Brain-dead Newsweek high school rankings
posted 05-12-2005 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KGB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Newsweek has chosen to base its high school rankings solely on the number of students who take AP-type tests.

You needn't be a genius to see that this is a questionable proxy for school excellence.

And, sure enough:

St. Petersburg Times


Hillsborough High School in Tampa earned a D grade from the state last year. And under federal standards, it fell far short.

But on Monday, Newsweek magazine named it the 10th best high school in the country.

In the country.


The Newsweek list is based on a single factor: the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school, divided by the number of graduating seniors. The students don't have to do well on the tests either. It matters only that they take them.


Critics say the formula is simplistic.

No duh.

There is a wiff of political correctness in this:

Newsweek article


As a college degree becomes ever more essential in the workplace, much of high-school reform centers on getting as many students as possible ready for higher education. That's what the NEWSWEEK List tries to measure by ranking schools based on participation in AP and IB tests written and graded by outside experts. In these courses, students prepare for the demands of college and can earn college credit if their scores are high enough. NEWSWEEK omitted schools with strict academic admission standards that exclude average students. Although there's much debate about the value of standardized tests and AP in particular, NEWSWEEK's List is based on the conviction that no other standard works as well to measure a high school's success at challenging all students to perform at a high level.

In other words, the rankings are supposed to measure good intentions rather than good outcomes.

Kent G. Budge

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.

--Ronald Reagan

Trolling in Shallow Water

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posted 05-12-2005 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Victor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suppose that if you are a typical reader of Newsweek, this ranking may just be useful. The list contains high schools that you can get your son or daugther into without any problem and without mortgaging your house. Once in, there is some evidence that there is an opportunity to take reasonably rigorous courses, assuming that the child can be motivated by the parents.

Of course this says nothing about the overall performance of the high school, either absolutely or relative to others. But a Newsweek reader is not interested in how well a high school handles the underprivileged, but how well it will handle his child.

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Sam Mc Kee
posted 05-12-2005 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sam Mc Kee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Measuring good intentions rather than outcomes...sure, the road to public education is paved with them.

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posted 06-02-2005 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KGB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Weekly Standard has an interesting article on the rankings, but I find the conclusion incredibly weak:


The Newsweek list is perhaps best understood as a PR stunt. Its primary purpose is to draw attention to the role AP and IB courses and exams can play in strengthening the curricula of American high schools. Despite the alarms raised by Welsh and other critics, one can think of many worse educational fads than an Advanced Placement arms race among high schools.

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