The Washington Post Challenge Index takes the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests taken each school year and divides by the number of seniors who graduate. It provides both a national rank, a region rank, and a state rank. (Novi's ranks: 756 national; 69 in the Midwest; and 7 in Michigan.)
Newsweek also compiles a list using a variety of factors: graduation rate, college matriculation, AP/IB test participation, AP/IB test scores, average ACT/SAT test scores, and AP tests offered by student. By this ranking Novi is number 472 of all the high schools in the United States.
A third ranking appears courtesy of US News and World Report. Here Novi is not ranked either nationally or in Michigan even though some of the schools that are ranked have scores that are lower than Novi's scores.
What does it all mean?
Jay Mathews, an education writer for the Washington Post, has an article that discusses the high school ranking phenomenon. The bottom line is that each list has a formula that include some schools and exclude other schools. He admits that if a school is on any of the three lists it should be happy.
From my perspective the lists try to identify a set of criteria and then measure schools against that criteria. Novi does well on two of the lists and is mysteriously left off the third list.
External validation is important.
More important is a robust accountability system that we develop and measure ourselves against. We are in the process of developing that.
Two of our four district goals deal with student achievement:
- The Novi Community School District will ensure that each student will make no less than one year's growth in one year's time.
- The Novi Community School district will ensure that all students achieve at a high level. (There will be no achievement gaps.)
Rankings are interesting and they make for some enjoyable debates. But what is more important is being able to clearly demonstrate that every student is making progress and that every student is learning. If we can do that then I can rest well at night.