Another Meaningless Ranking of Schools

Reducing a school's standing to scores in standardized tests is wrong yet these pointless exercises continue. Niche has recently provided its list of top schools in the country for 2020. This particular ranking weighs state assessment results for half of the score with the other half relying on teachers' data (salaries, absenteeism, test results, survey responses from students and parents), "rigorous analysis" of academic and student life based on reviews by parents and students, racial and economic diversity, and additional survey responses. These surveys obviously depend on participation and there is no evidence that these meet proper statistical practices. In fact, Niche probably does not even have any survey data on a significant number of schools. Still, a simple ranking attracts attention especially when it presents itself as scientific or authoritative. Well, it is not. And it is completely meaningless.

Seeing a school through your own eyes is so much more dependable. The school my daughter goes to, Mason Crest Elementary School, ranks #376 out of 1121 public elementary schools in the state of Virginia, according to Niche. Its teachers are supposed to be #503 out of 1115 schools. It is odd that the total number of schools is different for the teachers' ranking. Niche places Mason Crest, however, #30 out of 1160 (Again, the total number here is different) in terms of diversity.

Niche gets it right when it comes to how diverse my daughter's school is. What Niche sorely misses is the culture and climate of the school. What Niche fails to see is how dedicated each and every teacher is at Mason in ensuring that all children learn. Mason Crest Elementary School has been an outstanding model for a professional learning community. What Niche does not say as well is how this school has grown from a vision of true equity in education from two great principals, Brian Butler and Diane Kerr.

It is a school that genuinely embraces each student. It is a school that supports each student. It is a school that believes in each student.

Niche cannot capture how happy my daughter is to be a pupil in this school. Niche does not have any review on Mason Crest.

But I do know that my daughter thinks so highly of this school. And I agree with her. I just had lunch with her at her school and she does look happy. For me, that is enough.