US News Ranks RI Schools Highly (again)

blackboard jungle The US News public high school rankings are back out, and again rate Rhode Island very highly — 6th in the country. The RI schools they like are a mix of charters and traditional publics, urban and suburban. The methodology is outlined here, though not in deep detail:

3. What methodology was used to identify America’s Best High Schools?

The methodology for identifying America’s Best High Schools was developed with a core principle in mind—that the best high schools must serve all students well and must produce measurable academic outcomes that support this mission. The methodology was developed by School Evaluation Services.

According to the methodology, a best high school is one that succeeds at the following:

Step 1. Attains performance levels that exceed statistical expectations given the school’s relative level of student poverty, as measured by state accountability test scores for all the school’s students in the core subjects of reading and math;

Step 2. Achieves proficiency rates on state tests for its least advantaged student groups (e.g., black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students) that exceed state averages; and

Step 3. Prepares its students for college, as measured by student participation in and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams.

I’m obviously pleased that we come out so high. But then part of my gut always wants to recoil from these lists — especially for having gone to a public that always ranks highly, but fed parents’ and students’ obsessions with AP exams and the Ivy League, and was generally poor at providing any sort of grounded, holistic experience. Preferencing winning the race to the top of the heap above fostering any sense of community, or personal fulfillment that wasn’t blessed by an admissions board or the Educational Testing Service etc, etc. (It’s the one that this book is about.) But I also recognize that it’s from a position of privilege that I make that critique.

RI certainly suffers from a substantial achievement gap, and doesn’t perform great on standardized tests — but we’re a relatively urbanized state, with poor, transient, diverse and multi-lingual inner cities, and US News claims to be preferencing schools that over-perform relative to statistical expectations based on such considerations.

So, what do we all think of the US News methods and findings? What, if anything, they say about where we stand, and what needs to change?

1 thought on “US News Ranks RI Schools Highly (again)”

  1. Annie Messier

    I always hear that US News is skewered in its rankings. But as a Rhode Islander (albeit one that isn’t a product of its schools and doesn’t plan on having children to enroll in them), I have to comment that it’s nice to see us high on a list for something positive for a change.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose