Fulfilling his threat promise of last week, Jay Mathews has unleashed his 2006 “challenge” index for high schools in the DC area.

I don’t have the energy right now to rant about why this exercise is such a farce so, if you’re interested, take a look at the back catalog.

However, Mathews has added a new wrinkle to this year’s list. For most of the schools he includes a number called the “Equity and Excellence” rate.

This statistic comes from the College Board, marketer of the AP program, and is defined as “the percentage of all seniors, including those not in AP, calculated … to have had at least one score of 3 or above on the 5-point test”.

Maybe I’m just sleepy but that number doesn’t seem to make any more sense than those provided by Mathews’ index.

Why would you want a passing rate that includes students who didn’t even take the test? Why would you want to include the passing score on only one test?

As always, this seems to be another strange attempt to boil down the quality of a high school to a single, headline-ready number.

And if you don’t live in the DC area, don’t worry. For the rest of you, Newsweek will splash these faux statistics defining the “best” high schools all over their cover sometime in May.

Something to look forward to.