In today’s Class Struggle column (also in the dead tree edition of the Post), Jay Mathews gets some push back for his “challenge” index from a few small school districts.

The letter from a group of school superintendents describes some great reasons to oppose this supposed measure of high school quality, but the bottom line is this:

“In reality, it is impossible to know which high schools are ‘the best’ in the nation. Determining whether different schools do or don’t offer a high quality of education requires a look at many different measures, including students’ overall academic accomplishments and their subsequent performance in college, and taking into consideration the unique needs of their communities. Students and school communities deserve better than simplistic and misleading school rankings…”

Mathews responds with his usual defense – the list is flawed but still useful and people love it – which falls flat.

Unfortunately, these districts represent a very small percentage of American high schools. Their rebellion will probably have no effect on Newsweek’s plan to trumpet the index in an upcoming May issue.