After reading how U.S. News & World Report compiled its rankings of the best high schools in the nation and in Illinois, Maine Township High School Distict 207 administrators became concerned the magazine had errors in its data.
With correct information, and High Schools might be included in the state's top schools, the district said.
It released the following statement Friday afternoon:
Maine Township High School District 207 has observed errors in U.S. News & World Report’s demographic profiles of its three high schools that raise questions about where District 207 schools might rank otherwise in the news magazine’s annual report on high schools.
District 207 Superintendent Dr. Ken Wallace said, “I think that Maine East and Maine West should have been on the list based on the fact that they both have College Readiness scores that are far higher than those of many schools who made the list. We are aware that nationally many schools, even some who made the list, are questioning the accuracy of the data.”
In this year’s rankings, released May 8, U.S. News & World Report ranks Maine South 29th among Illinois high schools and does not rank either Maine East or Maine West among its top 70 in Illinois. However, U.S. News’ profiles on Maine East, South and West state that 0 percent of students at each school are classified as economically disadvantaged.
This could be relevant in the rankings because research consistently shows a strong positive correlation between family income and student academic performance and, appropriately, the methodology that U.S. News employs rewards those schools whose economically disadvantaged students score above statistical expectations on standardized tests. U.S. News states that its initial step in rating schools is as follows: “We started by looking at reading and math results for all students on each state's high school proficiency tests. We then factored in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students (who tend to score lower) enrolled at the school to identify the schools that were performing better than statistical expectations.”
But profiles indicating 0 percent economically disadvantaged students at District 207 schools are at odds with actual Illinois School Report Card statistics, which for 2011 indicate 44.8 percent low-income students at Maine East, 7.7 percent at Maine South and 32.2 percent at Maine West.
Wallace said, “We will work through whatever channels are necessary to make sure that an accurate profile for East and West get presented to U.S. News & World for this report. We owe that to our students, to our staff, and to our community. They are both remarkable schools, and we believe that with accurate data they will both be included in the Top High Schools list.”
One error in U.S. News & World Report’s new rankings received national attention when the Principal of Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nevada, saw that his school was ranked 13th nationally. Principal Jeff Horn noticed that in U.S. News’ online rankings that his school was credited with a 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio because Green Valley’s enrollment was listed by U.S. News as having an enrollment of 477 instead of the actual enrollment of 2,850.
On Thursday, a Nevada Department of Education spokesman said that a former database administrator inadvertently submitted incorrect data to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics , which acknowledges it did not catch the error, leading to U.S. News & World Report’s erroneous ranking of Green Valley.