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Mon Sep 18, 2023, 12:34 PM

I don't teach at a 'top' high school. But those rankings fail our students.

Rebecca Potter

The U.S. News and World Report has just published its national ranking of public high schools. Schools that ranked well use that information to tout how good they are. Bragging rights. Proof that they are doing a good job. Evidence that they are a "good school."

But it's not that simple.

A lot of criticism exists about this report and others like it, for many reasons. The report uses Advanced Placement/international baccalaureate programs, standardized test scores and graduation rates to rank the schools. And that's all they use.

Many schools choose to not participate in AP or IB. Those programs are great for what they are, but schools do not need to participate in either one to be good.

Seneca High School, where I teach in Louisville, Kentucky, focuses much more on dual credit programs and co-op programs. Both of these efforts give our students a head start in their college and career journeys. But these programs are not a part of the ranking system.


Agree 100%

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Reply I don't teach at a 'top' high school. But those rankings fail our students. (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Sep 18 OP
mopinko Sep 18 #1
Igel Sep 18 #2

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Mon Sep 18, 2023, 02:44 PM

1. sad reading.

almost all the chgo schools listed r selective enrollment/gifted.
how about ranking schools anyone can go to?

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Response to mopinko (Reply #1)

Mon Sep 18, 2023, 10:49 PM

2. Because the goal is college-readiness.

You produce welders and machinists, they're not college ready.

That this is the criterion is not at issue. Except in this article. I've argued with principals in public that this is the wrong criterion for some kids, but nonetheless it's true. Graduate with a certification in small engine repair, that's nice. Yet it seems wrong that my high school valedictorian "majored" in being a machinist, with general-ed courses like "Math 10" and "Personal finance" while the other kids with physics and pre-cal and college bound were demoted. Or perhaps not--depends if you think education versus vocation matters. Which is better, a D.Ed. or a master machinist?

Graduate with credits for 10 college courses, you've cut out a year of college and more. Knew one teacher whose kid entered college and when the college credits were awarded for AP tests and DC courses was a junior. Graduated with a 4-year degree after 2.5 years at the flagship state school, and it took more than 2 years simply because a required course needed a prereq she hadn't gotten credit for. So that fall she took grad classes towards her masters. Saved parents and self $60k.

DC classes are often through CCs. Transferring those credits can be difficult, esp. out of state.

It's great that a school gets those deprived by their K-8 schools of a good education a grade or two ahead of where they started +4. But in the end it's not how much the school improves you, but where your kids end up.

Same in a race. "In this marathon, Katie Moiseevna al-Rahim y Garcia was in last place at the mid-point. But he came in at 20th out of 200 across the finish line." Gee, Katie--he--improved his standing a lot. But there aren't trophies for 20th place. It's a societal thing, and I'm not one to think that society would be so much better simply if it were to adopt my views.

Note that these days most schools near me have both DC and AP classes because it costs little to have both--just teacher training and maybe student subsidies (if the district/school tosses $ at paying student expenses). IB is an oddity--it's expensive and while it's a good program, it's not cheap and takes a lot of work. Even then, there's a choice--do you maintain standards so the classes are small but most pass the IB tests or do you lax standards so classes are large but your IB test pass rate bumps the bottom?

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