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High School Ranking Never Ends
May 22, 2011 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Today the Washington Post released its annual High School Challenge Index, which ranks DC-area public high schools. But in a twist this year, they have also expanded their rankings nationally to more than 1900 public high schools.

The methodology: "Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors. While not a measure of the overall quality of the school, the rating can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college. " Also, "any magnet or charter high school that draws such a high concentration of top students that its average SAT or ACT score exceeds the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country" is excluded.
posted by Ike_Arumba (70 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Want!!
posted by Xurando at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2011


The school where I teach is on the list (in the top 50), but I don't read too much into it. It does nothing to measure how prepared the students are for the tests they are taking. I almost feel like we bought our way onto the list by giving tons of AP tests.
posted by parliboy at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2011


The first two are Magnet Schools. Is the methodology link accurate?
posted by Fuka at 3:18 PM on May 22, 2011


My high school ranks 593rd! AWESOME!!!

Actually, that doesn't sound all that impressive.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 3:20 PM on May 22, 2011


My high school ranks 593rd! AWESOME!!!

Actually, that doesn't sound all that impressive.


it's pretty good when you consider that the FAQ says there are 27,000 high schools in the US.

It's interesting to look at my state, Michigan. Predictably, the schools that made it onto the list track with where the money is. Two of our local school districts are on there, both full of the children of university faculty and graduate students.
posted by not that girl at 3:31 PM on May 22, 2011


Disclaimer The Washington Post company makes most of it's money selling courses to prepare students for these exact tests. The methodology is designed to generate demand for their products, not make better students.
posted by humanfont at 3:34 PM on May 22, 2011 [19 favorites]


The first two are Magnet Schools. Is the methodology link accurate?

Their methodology for excluding magnet schools is a little idiosyncratic: they only carve them out if their average SAT is higher than the any non-magnet school in the country.

I've always assumed it's basically just designed to keep Northern Virginia's own Thomas Jefferson from being at the top of the list every year like they do the US News & World Reports ranking, since Jay Matthews has always had such a hate-on for the school.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:36 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


NEST is #16 and basically a publicly funded prep school. it sits right across one of the poorest public housing projects in NYC but they mostly have open arms for rich kids. i say mostly because they still have to have the conceit of being "for the people". they just dont hide they dont what "that sort of people".

ugh.
posted by liza at 3:46 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hrm. Not a single listing for any of the high schools in my hometown, which is the second largest city in the state.

Also, depressing to see what the top scoring schools have for their index number and to look and see what the local schools in this area have for their index number.

Also, interesting that the entire thing is geared toward which school are best at preparing students for college. Once again, reinforcing the idea that skilled trades are being left by the wayside in our current culture.
posted by hippybear at 3:47 PM on May 22, 2011


I went to two high schools: 108 and 110. Kind of interesting that the two schools I went to in California and Virginia were so close. Granted, when my family moved, my parents always tried to pick neighborhoods based on the quality of schools, so yeah.
posted by Tknophobia at 3:47 PM on May 22, 2011


407!! 407!!

I was talking to my father earlier today about my high school. I had a few scuffles with teachers when I felt like we were either being taught too slowly or I didn't like how restricted the system felt, how much it seemed to cramp students and prevent them from learning. But we're still in the upper percentiles as far as high schools go, and in college I'm surprised at how excellently it prepared me for college.

It's both nice to realize that my high school was doing a better job of things than I realized when I was a teenage idiot, and frustrating to know that it could still have been much, much better.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:03 PM on May 22, 2011


@hippybear

yeah. they only have a handful of school for NYC --which, am pretty sure, is the biggest public school district in the country.
posted by liza at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2011


ugh, schools :P
posted by liza at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2011


Considering that neither Stuyvesant nor Bronx Science, the two most competitive (and prestigious) public high schools in New York City, are not on the list, I don't know what it's supposed to show.
posted by stargell at 4:12 PM on May 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


stargell: I suspect the exclusions have something to do with what humanfont pointed out -- that Washington Post is a subsidiary of Kaplan, Inc. Probably something to do with whether the schools in question purchase materials published by said company.
posted by hippybear at 4:16 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paragon's First Rule of Statistical Applicability: Any ranking containing the phrase "While not a measure of the overall quality of X..." will be used to measure the overall quality of X.
posted by Paragon at 4:16 PM on May 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Scumbag newspaper: Sell Newsweek, Steal one of their few remaining big ad spend ideas
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:16 PM on May 22, 2011


I am genuinely startled to see my alma mater in the top 40. (Just barely - 38.) Between the asbestos, the fights, the bomb threats, the overcrowding, and the structural failures, I have a hard time seeing what they got right - other than test scores, I guess. It's in a wealthy district, which probably helps its place on this list. The kind of wealthy where the students drove Mercedes and the teachers drove Hondas.

Plenty of my classmates went on to Be Successful, but their families had money. Others went on to Be Prematurely Dead. So it goes.
posted by cmyk at 4:17 PM on May 22, 2011


The first two are Magnet Schools. Is the methodology link accurate?

The first two are in Texas, where they threw kids out to get better over-all test scores. I don't think this survey passes muster.
posted by vhsiv at 4:18 PM on May 22, 2011


I feel a little silly for checking to see where the high school I attended sits, but hey: top five!

As far as I know, admission's on a lottery basis. It's not a perfect system (bypasses students whose parents don't sign them up for the magnet program) but better than many. What gets it on these lists every time is that a) the state gives bonuses to the school for each student who passes an AP test and b) the school funnels that money back into paying for AP tests for any student who wants to take one. Since there's no financial disincentive to taking the tests, students take a lot more of them than they might otherwise (those things are expensive!) The average SAT scores presumably aren't all that different from the other high schools in the district due to the lottery governing entry (as opposed to entrance tests, as with some of the schools WaPo calls "public elites".)
posted by asperity at 4:30 PM on May 22, 2011


First they drop all the schools that have 'too high' average SATs, then start ranking.

The 24 High Schools Too Good to Compete are listed here. Stuyvesant & Bronx Science make this cut, of course.

The publicized list should start at 25. Or it should be made clear that this is like a ranking of 'top professional basketball players (less than six feet tall).'
posted by hexatron at 4:33 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the methodology is stupid. It rewards schools that encourage kids to take AP tests even if they're ill-prepared for them, and it rewards kids who can afford to take AP tests even if they don't think they're going to get good enough scores to test out of college classes. I'd be really interested to compare it with stats about how students do on the AP tests that they take.
posted by craichead at 4:36 PM on May 22, 2011


Odd. Two of the highschools in my town are on the list, but the one I went to isn't. Which either means it has REALLY gone downhill since I went there, or they refused to participate.

Either way, god, ranking public high schools. Hooray. What next, ranking preschools nationally?
posted by ch1x0r at 4:37 PM on May 22, 2011


vhsiv: "The first two are in Texas, where they threw kids out to get better over-all test scores. I don't think this survey passes muster."

So? Just because the schools are in Texas--and the Dallas Independent School District, to boot--they shouldn't be able to operate as any other magnet school does? If a student doesn't meet the bar for being in a magnet school then he or she will be returned to the neighborhood school. There are a few other schools in the top 25 that, when I perused their web sites, showed they function in the same way and are not in Texas.*

Note that WT White, a DISD neighborhood high school, comes in at 271 (or in the top 1% if there are 27,000 high schools in the country) which is in itself a great achievement for the much-maligned Dallas ISD.

* Texas GRAR! Woo.
posted by fireoyster at 4:37 PM on May 22, 2011


This is a really, really terrible metric. It heavily overemphasizes magnet/selective enrollment schools and doesn't give enough credit to the schools that really have to take on every single student they get. There are schools that have a wonderful program, but also have a lot of students who don't end up doing well anyways for whatever reason - and those schools, no matter how good their best students are, or even their average ones are, still look bad on national lists.
posted by LSK at 4:39 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, this metric penalizes the local high school, which is nearby a land grant university, with the following policy:
"Manhattan High School permits students to take courses at accredited colleges and universities and receive credit from the high school as well as the university. To be eligible for this option, students must have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, be in an 11th grade student and beyond or a 10th grade student in the gifted program. Students have the option to receive .5 of high school credit for a two or three hour university course and 1.0 of high school credit for a four or five hour university course taken off campus. University fees for dual credit are the student's responsibility."
I remember receiving college credit with the local community college for a number of senior year courses in suburban KC. Between that and AP tests, I came into a 4 year college with 38 credit hours (a bit over half an AS). Kind of a sad confirmation of CC's as extended high school, that a crafty student could graduate high school with an associate's.
posted by pwnguin at 4:44 PM on May 22, 2011


The school my children graduated from is #945, one of only two in our city on the list.

It is in a neighborhood district chock full of doctors and lawyers. The kids drive better cars than the teachers do. (Well, not all the kids. The district does have some poor and middleclass spots in it.) Also they have an interior magnet program that some folks apply to get into.

The other is a classical magnet school that people apply to get into.


This is just an observation, but my observation in general is that if a kid's parents have money or give a damn about education, the kid will do well no matter where you plunk them. If a school has a majority of kids from either or both of those categories, they will be a top school.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:48 PM on May 22, 2011


Apparently, my high school is 1572% white. Sounds about right.
posted by hoyland at 4:57 PM on May 22, 2011


Well well! My old school is #100!

Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors.

Of course, that might be because my school district lets people take the tests for free. I did the IB program, but for every subject that had an AP and IB test, we all took both. I can't even remember how many AP and IB tests I took... but I know I came to college with 30 hours of college credit under my belt, purely due to those tests. And I took several tests which I KNEW I would fail, because, well, hell, why not, it's free!

That was all actually awesome for me- the only dodgy thing is the taking of multiple tests in a single subject, which by this metric would seem to artificially inflate the score.

But, while I was at that school, there were accusations that kids who really belonged in honors classes were being pressured into taking AP and IB classes, purely so that they could take the end-of-year tests and thereby boost the school's reputation for academic rigor.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:05 PM on May 22, 2011


The Washington Post owns Kaplan, no? Test prep must be important...
posted by R. Mutt at 5:09 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The methodology: "Divide the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors. While not a measure of the overall quality of the school, the rating can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college. " Also, "any magnet or charter high school that draws such a high concentration of top students that its average SAT or ACT score exceeds the highest average for any normal-enrollment school in the country" is excluded.

I think someone was trying to get their school in the mix...and leave out their smarter sibling's school. Besides that, I don't understand what this methodology is supposed to accomplish. This seems pretty stupid.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:17 PM on May 22, 2011


Hey, my alma mater (San Diego High) is #89. Of course, they did split it up in to four (or more) different charters after I left. The other piece of SDHS that got ranked was #1596. The implication being that the school has been split based at least partially on academic performance...the high performing section got all the IB courses I took when I was there.
posted by Existential Dread at 5:19 PM on May 22, 2011


It's a good conspiracy theory, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense. People don't use Kaplan for APs, do they?

What you say would also hold true for my state, pwnguin. Lots of students dual-enroll in community college classes in high school, and the top kids in the schools near the state universities take classes at the local university, rather than taking APs. The results for my state don't really jibe with my sense of which schools have the best reputations.

I'm trying to think of what a better metric would be, though. Maybe what you'd have to do would be to predict what percentage of students should graduate from four-year colleges, based on each school's demographic profile, and then see whether the school over or under-performs the prediction. It would take way more sophisticated statistical analysis than I think the Post is willing to invest in, though.
posted by craichead at 5:23 PM on May 22, 2011


These rankings seem to skew very heavily toward charter schools.
posted by maryr at 5:30 PM on May 22, 2011


It's unfortunate that we can't make a reliable metric on how many students take AP and IB courses instead of tests. Still, I understand the impulse - prior to the creation of a common curriculum, AP and IB are more reliably rigorous than less regulated high school curricula. At the end of the day, I'd probably prefer a metric that measured how many students get 3s or better on AP tests.

Whether kids go to trade school or college, though, rigorous content in high school matters a bunch. Even manufacturing has become a much more intellecutally sophisticated occupation. I do think we'd be a much better off country if every kid had an AP-level understanding of US history and literature because both are when critical viewpoints start to poke their heads out. Calculus is probably too much to ask, but successful completion of algebra is an absolute must for everybody.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:34 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


You’ve spent the year gaining advanced knowledge. Now it’s time to reap the rewards: money-saving college credit or advanced placement, and an admissions edge. Yet a top score on the AP exam requires more than knowing the material. Even if your instructor was great and you worked hard in class, you need to get comfortable with the test format itself, preparing for pitfalls and arming yourself with foolproof strategies. That’s where the Kaplan plan offers the clear advantage. With more than 70 years of proven test-prep experience, Kaplan has developed unique study guides that provide cutting-edge review while honing your test-taking skills.
Kaplan’s AP exam preparation guides include everything you need to know to score higher on the test—guaranteed.


posted by R. Mutt at 5:38 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks R. Mutt. I'm sold!
posted by stargell at 5:39 PM on May 22, 2011


My alma mater is number 13 apparently (so there!!! :P). Great publicity for them, but lets be straight here: its a magnet school and you had to pass a pretty rigorous test to be admitted, also AP tests were subsided to encourage taking them. Not all student bases are created equal, etc. etc. This is the kind of ranking that results in the devaluation of ridiculously hard working teachers in poor neighborhoods, so fuck this ranking. The idea of treating all kids as educational equals is so tied to the 'American Dream' and so easy for the entitled classes to accept (when they dominate the rankings) I don't know if we will ever properly shake it.
posted by tmthyrss at 5:47 PM on May 22, 2011


I momentarily got cheesed off about Stuy's absence too, but then I remembered the immortal words of Abe Baumel: "Harvard College could take its entire incoming class from Stuyvesant and academic standards wouldn't suffer." My people seemed to agree. The rest surmised that without legacy students dragging it down, performance might actually improve.

Doesn't belong on the list.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:56 PM on May 22, 2011


maryr: "These rankings seem to skew very heavily toward charter schools."

As part of institutional cultures which generally discourage tracking or otherwise trying to group students by potential academic performance, many charter high schools requite students to take a certain number of AP courses and tests. Many are sucessful even with kids across the SES specturum.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:03 PM on May 22, 2011


"Harvard College could take its entire incoming class from Stuyvesant and academic standards wouldn't suffer."

An entire freshman class of New Yorkers? Maybe the academics wouldn't suffer, but as someone who occasionally eats out in Harvard Square, *I* would suffer.

More seriously though, what's the SES spectrum?
posted by maryr at 6:06 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuka - my friend who is superintendent at a public school in town said that this methodology skews everything towards magnet schools, fwiw.
posted by scunning at 6:09 PM on May 22, 2011


Our local high school is shown with a 1.366 index and a 100% subsidzed school lunch rate, along with a 1,909 average SAT score. The actual rate for subsidized lunches is 0% (cite) and I'd have to think that the average IB/AP tests per student is closer to 3, even though the school has actually de-emphasized AP classes in favor of a broader honors curriculum. I see a number of other schools where basic statistics are completely wrong. Highly suspect.
posted by MattD at 6:12 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


maryr: " SES spectrum?"

Sorry, I try not to drop obscure acronyms. SES = socioeconomic status, which I was really using a standin for all the constitutive elements of the achievement gap - race, income, and English proficiency status.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:14 PM on May 22, 2011


My high school is unranked. I know it doesn't actually matter but now I'm curious.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:22 PM on May 22, 2011


Also, I'm kind of glad Stuyvesant isn't on this list. I've had an irrational hate-on for that place ever since freshman year, when I found out that my entering class had four times as many people from Stuyvesant as it did from my entire state.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2011


#530! Go Falcons!

/I don't think ranking high schools is such a great idea. Try to enjoy school, kids! Grades and good schools are very overrated in the grand scheme of things.
posted by mrhappy at 6:34 PM on May 22, 2011


And if you're going to rank high schools, at least do it based on some kind of actual measure that has something to do with the education provided. This is a ranking of how strongly administrators feel about getting students signed up for AP tests or following an IB program. Of course, if they titled it the "College Board's Top Suckers List," they might have a bit of a hard time attracting advertisers.
posted by zachlipton at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2011


I was surprised to see one of my high schools ranked as highly as it was (in the 700's). I was more surprised to see that they apparently increased the graduation rate by 25 percentage points in less than five years (50% to about 75%). It makes me wonder if they're just screwing with the stats somehow. . . . it received a grant a few years ago that was dependent on it having an incredibly low graduation rate. It was a hellhole, but the bureaucracy was good at getting outside money/attention/programs.

. . . though it also lists it has having no AP or IB courses (it has both), and 95% black (I think it was closer to 75%), so maybe some of the stats aren't exactly accurate.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2011


As a Stuyvesant graduate, I can assure you that I did nothing to bolster its reputation. So there.
posted by AJaffe at 6:42 PM on May 22, 2011


My home high school is ranked (in the top 400), but the magnet school that I went to, where I took 90% of my AP courses, is not ranked. I presume because of the exclusionary rule.

I remember taking one or two AP courses at my home school. They were a joke compared to the courses offered at the magnet school. I think a lot of it has to do with my high school being in a fairly affluent part of the city, and parents with money pressuring the school to offer the courses, even though the kids probably shouldn't be in them. The teachers definitely shouldn't have been teaching them. Every single one of the AP courses offered at my home school had an equivalent course offered at the magnet school, where the teachers were not only required to have a master's degree in teaching, but also in the subject matter they were teaching (ten years later and some perspective gained, I really hope they were paid well for this requirement). On the other hand, the AP History teacher at my home high school was the regular history teacher, just, instead of having a mixture of bright and problem students in every period, he had all the bright/ambitious/status-driven students in one "AP" period, and the rest of the lot in his other periods. Seems a little broken in retrospect, as this is the first time I've really paid it much attention until now.

All said and done, I don't think this list really means much, mostly because of the exclusions. They should create separate lists for private versus public, and, perhaps, have a metric based on how many kids actually score high enough to earn college credit. Lots of uncontrolled factors make this list mostly worthless (except for discussion, hi MeFi).
posted by erstwhile at 6:50 PM on May 22, 2011


Well, my alma mater is #169, and I know for a fact that their index is 3.7 because a small minority of students in the magnet program take on average a dozen AP exams apiece, not because they're offering that test-prep opportunity to all students across the board. Not that I necessarily enjoyed taking 12 APs, because I assure you I didn't, but if a parent were to look at that number and say "Wow, I'd better send my kid to our local school, North Hollywood High School, because my kid will have the opportunity to take scads of AP exams", that parent would be wrong. Those courses aren't open to the vast majority of kids enrolled in the school.

I'm sure that's the case for a lot of these schools. What a crummy metric for ranking high schools.
posted by troublesome at 7:03 PM on May 22, 2011


This is bullshit. The school my kids attend is on the list at #433, but that's only because they've been shoehorning every kid they can into AP classes, whether the kid should be in it, whether being in it is overwhelming for the kid (and turns him off academics even more), whether having everyone, even kids who disrupt the class, in AP classes does the serious students any good, etc. etc. The same school has an SAT average of 1489. Not bad until you consider that the 30% of students who drop out don't take the SATs. The Washington Post knows full well that schools will do anything to get ranked on lists like theirs, regardless of how much the competition screws the students they're supposed to be trying to teach.
posted by headnsouth at 7:25 PM on May 22, 2011


I guess I should be glad my high school closed a year after I graduated to save me from the disappointment of not seeing it on this list.
posted by vespabelle at 7:32 PM on May 22, 2011


A far better metric would be the number of 4s and 5s on the AP (or 3s, 4s, and 5s, or just 6s), not simply the total number of tests.

Measuring achievement rather than merely the attempt at achievement seems so blindingly obvious, that I assume such data simply isn't available (for student privacy reasons or something similar). Right?
posted by lewedswiver at 8:41 PM on May 22, 2011


*(or 3s, 4s, and 5s, or just 5s)

*fixed
posted by lewedswiver at 8:42 PM on May 22, 2011


Wow. Top 250. This is entirely unsurprising, considering the number of IB and AP tests I had rammed down my throat (to the detriment of my overall education).

Mind you, I took several AP tests in addition to my full round of 6-7 IB tests, and there was absolutely no preparatory coursework to back me up. Fat lot of good it did me too -- I transferred 3 AP credits into college, and exempted my Freshman writing requirement. Woo. Totally worth those crippling amounts of stress throughout my Junior and Senior years.

We can also talk about whether or not it's appropriate to measure the relative "success" of a High School by the number of students that it prepares for a traditional 4-year undergraduate degree. Are vocational training and skilled labor officially dead? My blue-collar friends from High School all make far more money and have a generally higher quality of life than those of us who went to college.

As far as I can tell, this survey determines which schools are good at enrolling students in AP and IB exams and nothing else. It might have been a decent metric for the Post to use to pick out recovering urban schools in their own backyard, but it fails utterly on the national level, where it seems to excel at picking out the schools with the wealthiest and most white-collar student bodies.

My one bit of pride comes from acing the AP Computer Science exam. I learned C in High School, and was encouraged to sign up for the exam "because I was good at it. Because the class wasn't offered at the AP level, nobody bothered telling me that the exam was in Java until about a week beforehand -- the Princeton Review book contained exactly the bits of Java that I needed to know. To this day, I have never written a single line of Java outside of that exam booklet.

Alternatively, you may (correctly) interpret this anecdote as evidence that the AP CS exam is crap, as is this ranking methodology.

posted by schmod at 8:44 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where did Monkey High School Place this year? Still at the top, I suppose.
posted by procrastination at 8:55 PM on May 22, 2011


schmod: "Alternatively, you may (correctly) interpret this anecdote as evidence that the AP CS exam is crap, as is this ranking methodology. "

There was a successful push to kill off the AB exam, since enrollment fell off a cliff. I can't imagine being able to hire someone to teach a Java course that includes hashtables and average case analysis successfully with the pay grades public schools ask for. The education students I've tutored were learning Logo as a grad level elective and kinda failing at that. It's surprising to see how deep a LOGO curriculum could be, given what I recall about LOGO in my childhood classrooms.
posted by pwnguin at 9:05 PM on May 22, 2011


My high school is 274th. Woohoo? More importantly, from this list I learned that a performing arts charter highschool opened in my hometown 11 years ago. A performing arts high school where all the 11th and 12th graders take full IB coursework. As a theater nerd who loved school, I wish it would have been around when I was in high school!
posted by mollymayhem at 11:29 PM on May 22, 2011


Kaplan used to spam my college with flyers stapled to every cork board that wasn't under lock and key, and always with the leftmost slip at the bottom of the flyer pre-removed (CalPIRG did the same with their flyers calling for summer volunteers).

Whenever I used to see a new flyer on the board nearest my usual hangout, when I had free time between experiments and felt like a walk, I'd clear the entire floor for three connected buildings of the Kaplan spamflood.

Going off coffee really helped to kick this habit.

Also, dropping out of graduate school - a positive change of environment correlates positively with tolerance.

posted by zippy at 5:16 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hrm. There's a charter school on that list for which a friend of mine used to teach. Thanks to his stories of underachievement and inefficiency, I'm very surprised to see it in the top 500.
posted by Vhanudux at 7:32 AM on May 23, 2011


#24: Preuss School
Their admission policy: "To attend The Preuss School, student must be low-income and their parents have not graduated from a four-year college or university."

Awesome!
posted by escher at 8:31 AM on May 23, 2011


craichead: "I think the methodology is stupid. It rewards schools that encourage kids to take AP tests even if they're ill-prepared for them, and it rewards kids who can afford to take AP tests even if they don't think they're going to get good enough scores to test out of college classes. I'd be really interested to compare it with stats about how students do on the AP tests that they take"

That's what I was thinking. The high school I graduated from doesn't make the list and neither does any from the county, where you could take 1 AP test for free and pay for the rest when I was there. But that district is stupid and I wouldn't be surprised if you have to pay for any AP test now.

My wife's alma matter, Charleston School of the Arts, comes in at 1659 and Academic Magnet is 22. She's biased as Hell when comparing the two, but she's always told me that students and teachers who were at both schools would always say that SOA was a better school and was better preparing the kids for the real world anyway.
posted by theichibun at 8:46 AM on May 23, 2011


escher: "#24: Preuss School
Their admission policy: "To attend The Preuss School, student must be low-income and their parents have not graduated from a four-year college or university."
"

On one hand, that's pretty cool. On the other, exclusionary admissions criteria still rub me the wrong way, no matter how well-intentioned those admissions criteria might appear to be.
posted by schmod at 9:04 AM on May 23, 2011


Count me in as being unimpressed with the methodology. I pulled up my alma mater's state and very few of the schools I expected to see on the list were actually on there. Not "lower than I would have expected," but actually not there. So I'm not quite sure what's going on.

Are private schools not included? I didn't see that mentioned, and there are what seem to be private schools on the list in other places. It would be interesting to see how they compare to various public schools, as I expect there are some private schools around that actually underperform the better public schools, and are mainly dumping grounds for the ill-behaved and maladjusted children of the idle rich. It'd be nice to expose them. Although I expect in an effort to avoid that, they'd probably refuse to willingly hand over any data that might allow such a comparison to take place.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:00 AM on May 23, 2011


Are private schools not included? I didn't see that mentioned, and there are what seem to be private schools on the list in other places. It would be interesting to see how they compare to various public schools, as I expect there are some private schools around that actually underperform the better public schools, and are mainly dumping grounds for the ill-behaved and maladjusted children of the idle rich.

Private schools are not included. Charter and magnet schools are included (magnet schools being only included in their weird methodology if they aren't too good for their counties), and some of those aren't particularly distinct from private schools, especially where parents are very active donors and volunteers.

I don't think it would be that interesting to include private schools on this list, because I don't think this list measures anything that is of particular interest. The ill-behaved children of the rich can be forced to take AP exams just as effectively (probably more effectively when you include private tutors and extra AP prep courses) as the ill-behaved children of the poor. Actual educational achievement is somewhere between very difficult and impossible to measure. These rankings don't even try.
posted by zachlipton at 10:35 AM on May 23, 2011


theichibun: "She's biased as Hell when comparing the two"

Sent her the fact that her school is ranked a lot lower. This is what she had to say:

theichibun's wife: "It's still stupid. Academic Magnet requires all those AP classes. SOA is still WAAAAYYYY better!"
posted by theichibun at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2011


2. Why do you count only the number of tests given, and not how well the students do on the tests?

Some schools brag about their high passing rates on AP or IB, meaning the percentage of test-takers who scored 3, 4 or 5 on the 5-point AP exam or 4, 5, 6 or 7 on the 7-point IB exam. Passing scores make students eligible for credit at many colleges and universities.

I decided not to count passing rates in this way because I found that most high schools kept those rates artificially high by allowing only top students to take the courses. In other instances, they opened the courses to all but encouraged only the best students to take the tests.

AP, IB and AICE are important because they give average students a chance to experience the trauma of heavy college reading lists and long, analytical college examinations. Research has found that even low-performing students who got only a 2 on an AP test did significantly better in college than similar students who did not take AP.

posted by ahughey at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you really want the schools with the high passing rates, sort the table by E&E% (Equity and Excellence rate).
posted by ahughey at 9:06 PM on May 23, 2011


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