According to Jay Mathews, this spring will mark the 10th anniversary of the “challenge” index, his system for ranking high schools based on the number of students taking AP and/or IB tests.
I’ve had plenty of issues with the listing for at least half that decade, primarily with the fact that such a simplistic statistic for measuring school quality gets such a high profile in the press.
For example, once again in May Newsweek will publish the national version of the list, probably under the cover headline of “America’s Best High Schools” or a similar hyperbole.
However, while Mathews (and his employer the Washington Post Company, owner of Newsweek) is totally convinced of it’s validity, he still would like to know what you think of the “challenge” index.
Well, not exactly. He wants you to send him stories about the influence it’s had on education in your school.
Whether you like the Challenge Index or not, I hope you can put aside your favorite theories about it and instead focus on how it has affected, or not affected, for good or ill, teaching and learning in your school. I love data. I love anecdotes. Give me what you’ve got. I heard much speculation about the index in its early years and produced much of it myself. But after 10 years, I am hoping we have some interesting and useful facts to share.
So, if you’ve got some “data”, anecdotes, or opinions for Mathews about his “challenge” index, by all means write him.