School Ratings Madness

Oct 5, 2017 by

The Daily News’s recent publication of the U.S. News and World Report rankings of New York City high schools provides useful information, but there is a caveat: although the data may be accurate, it may be negated by its irrelevance.

The combination of factors may not be suitable evaluative tools, so even if they are not fudged, their conclusions may be misaligned with what really should be measured. Impertinence is arguably the fruit of US News and World Report’s research.

Based on the performance of often unscientific state and SAT tests and a weirdly-defined “college-readiness index”, the rankings should cause the raising of at least one brow of any impartial analyst. The inclusion of graduation rates and the tally of kids not forced into remediation should raise the second eyebrow.

Many of the finest students and eventually highest-achieving members of society need short-term remediation only because they are recent immigrants.

The US News and World Report ratings are, to put it charitably, semi-arbitrary. Your heading “These facilities made the grade” reflect a naive grasp of the complex and sophisticated nature of learning and the educational process.

“Facilities” are inanimate structures. Schools are a compilation not of data but of the stored and blossoming potential of sentient human beings who are at all stages of personal improvement. Every single student is an individual ” school”, no matter where housed and how conveniently they serve the Department of Education’s criteria.

Credit or discredit rests with the individual and doesn’t attach to an institution. As long as a solitary student develops brilliantly in a demeaned school, that school is illustrious. And any school that fails even one sole student, even if it’s at the summit of the US News rankings, is an abyssal failure.

It is said that if you save a single life, it is as though you saved the world.  In that vein, if a school drives a single student to transcend obstacles of every kind and help achievement some betterment in the world and self, that student’s school is blue-ribbon.

>The quality of students and schools can be reckoned exclusively on a one by one basis. All schools win and lose predicated on one kid at a time. They all share glory and shame. The degree that proportions matter is over-rated. The balance of representation between them is not as lop-sided as commonly believed or apparently subscribed to by the data-collators.

The US News and World Report ratings fuel the fires of misconception and simplification.The “best” schools and the “worst” schools: sometimes a difference without a disparity. Both extremes probably fall in-between the regard in which they are held.

If the Daily News want to be a conduit of vital information about schools, it is not enough that its sources pass as legitimate because they’ve been around a long time.

Back in the Middle-Ages ( but before the Dark Ages of the Chancellors Klein and Walcott era), a scholar and mystic created a “Guide to the Perplexed”. For those consumers of education news who cling with fathomless tenacity to the Daily News, it has printed a Perplexing Guide.

Ron Isaac


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