What kind of metric should we use in order to rate high schools (assuming, of course, that we should rate high schools comparatively, which is a big assumption). According to Newsweek, we should be calculating A/S, where A is the total number of Advanced Placement exams taken by all students in the high school, and S is the number of seniors. Note that the scores on those AP exams don’t matter; even a student who hands in a totally blank paper (as a surprisingly large number do) is counted toward computing the ratio.
There is actually a rationale behind this strange metric:
With our Best High Schools list, NEWSWEEK recognizes schools that do the best job of preparing average students for college. By dividing the number of AP and IB tests taken at a school by the number of graduating seniors, we can measure how committed the school is to helping kids take college-level courses.
Convincing, isn’t it?
The metric contrasts with the first paragraph of the very same article from which the preceding quotation was taken. Here is an excerpt:
…A one-size-fits-all approach no longer works for everyone, the new thinking goes; a more individualized experience is better. “We are changing the goal of high school and what it’s possible to achieve there,” says Tom Vander Ark, executive director of the Gates Foundation’s education initiative, which has spent $1 billion in 1,600 high schools…