Jay Mathews, an education writer, measures something worthwhile when he divides the number of AP tests given in a given year by they number of graduating seniors. The resulting number indicates something about rigor and challenge. But "Best High Schools?" Ick. You could totally screw over every special-ed student, every potential artist, have horrible student-teacher rapport, crumbling facilities, and any number of other shortcomings, and be considered a "great" school. The reverse is true. The high school that prepares my autistic nephew for success in the world doesn't register on the list. So while I don't mind Mathews' formula, and believe schools should strive to score well on it, I think printing it under the title "Best American High Schools" is journalistic malpractice.It's no surprise that many of the institutions listed at the top are "magnet schools," which really deserve a category of their own. Also, schools that don't offer AP or IB, no matter how outstanding their performance, simply don't make the list. This may be a heretical question, but are AP and IB the summit of educational rigor?
Jul 26, 2007
on the shallowness of rankings
Teacher, ref and poet TRP on Newsweek's "Best Public High Schools:"