The Challenge, One Last Time

This week Jay Mathews once again unleashed on the world his annual ranking of the “top 9 percent” of American high schools in a list he calls the “challenge” index.

And once again I’ve been thinking of how to write about this far too high profile and extremely trivial approach to discussing school quality without repeating myself.

Looking over my past posts on the subject (really? that many?), I got nothin’ new.

Mathews thinks he has something novel by adding a “sampling of private schools as a way to compare private to public schools”, but, other than complaining about private schools hiding data from him, nothing about this tired exercise has changed.

His index is still based on computing a simplistic ratio of the number of AP and other college level tests taken at a school divided by the number of graduating seniors. Just ignore the number of students who actually pass those tests or any other factor of school quality you care to name.

In this week of challenge overload on his blog, Mathews also grumbles about similar competing “best high schools” lists published this month in Newsweek (former home of his index) and US News and World Report (are they still publishing on paper?), while still taking some credit for both.  But it doesn’t sound as either of the alternatives is any more substantive.

Ok, I’ve already given Mathews too many links concerning his overly-hyped ranking, both in this post and all the others.

I’m done.

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