Published Online: February 28, 2006

Report Roundup

‘Best’ High School Ratings Challenged

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Many of the 100 high schools identified by Newsweek magazine as the best in the United States do not meet “a reasonable definition of a good high school,” concludes a report from Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank.

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"Challenged Index" is available from the Education Sector.

The report takes issue with the method devised by the journalist Jay Matthews to gauge the quality of high schools, which divides the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests taken by students at a high school by the number of graduating seniors. Many of the schools identified by Mr. Matthews—a reporter for The Washington Post and a member of the board of Editorial Projects in Education Inc., the publisher of Education Week—actually have significant achievement gaps, according to the Education Sector report.

In a response accompanying the report, Mr. Matthews agrees that his “challenge index” is a narrow measure of quality, but says that it provides a way to recognize schools with many low-income students for encouraging their students to take the college-preparatory courses.

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