Who Cares about High School Rankings? Parents, Educators and Real Estate Agents! By Patricia Hawke
How High School Rankings Determine the Quality of Public High Schools
The quality of high schools and the importance of high school rankings to gauge this quality is a never ending debate with varying points of view. Educators, parents and the media take differing views of this. Newsweek magazine for instance, publishes a high school rankings list of the top schools based on the participation of students in college level tests. There are those who are of the belief that this type of high school rankings list is the only way to determine the quality of great schools with motivated and committed staff.
Others aren't as enthusiastic. They complain that by ignoring standardized test scores as required by the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) Act, Newsweek's high school rankings list ignores a sizable section of the school population. Other school factors that come into play should also be taken into account, they claim. This tussle between the media and high school officials presents two valid points for determining the basis for high school rankings. But there is another group of individuals who are as interested as parents in local high school rankings - real estate agents. These agents enthusiastically follow the rise and fall of school fortunes as outlined in Newsweek's high school rankings.
High School Rankings may Rate Higher than a Pool
The buzz surrounding Newsweek's annual high school rankings list can't be denied. Millions of students and thousands of schools wait with anticipation to see if their school makes it to the elite list. This despite the fact that Newsweek uses only college level test participation as a basis for ranking schools and ignores test scores. Real estate agents don't seem to be bothered by the fact that Newsweek's high school rankings list is by no means comprehensive. It's common
in some regions to find real estate brochures that proudly advertise the fact that a school, whose area of enrollment falls within that region, has been featured in Newsweek's elite list. In fact, more often than not these brochures will mention this fact very prominently before the rest of the property is detailed!
The advantage of these high school rankings that are based on college tests is that even low income schools which struggle with the added burden that poverty places on their place in the scheme of things, have a chance to make the cut. In fact, several such low income schools are beginning to find a place on the Newsweek high school rankings list. It would be interesting to see how real estate agents tackle these developments. The drawback of such high school rankings is that they don't measure the attempts being made by a school district to improve matters in their schools. Any increase in test scores or math and reading abilities is not taken into account and this makes for an unfair high school rankings system, in some ways. But real estate agents aren't complaining. The Newsweek list has given them one more basis to promote their markets.