District 207 disputes national ranking snubs of Maine East, West
Maine East High School in Park Ridge.
SCHOOL: Maine South High School
DISTRICT: Maine Township High School District 207
RANKING: 691 out of 21,776 high schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:44AM
Maine Township High School District 207 is questioning the accuracy of an annual ranking of American high schools by U.S. News & World Report after errors were identified and two of the district’s three schools were omitted from the list.
According to the ranking, released May 8, Maine South High School in Park Ridge ranks 691 out of 22,000 public high schools in the nation and 29th in Illinois. Demographics for Maine East High School in Park Ridge and Maine West High School in Des Plaines are included on U.S. News & World Report’s website, but neither school is ranked among the publication’s “best high schools” in the state or nation.
“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,” said District 207 Superintendent Ken Wallace in a written statement released by the district May 11. “We are aware that nationally many schools, even some who made the list, are questioning the accuracy of the data.”
The formula for ranking the “best schools” used state proficiency tests, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, the number of students who took advanced-placement tests and how well students did on these tests.
According to U.S. News, Maine East’s college-readiness score is 28.3 out of a possible 100. The college-readiness score, according to the publication, is a measure of how students master college-level material and is calculated based on rates of participation on advanced-placement exams and the percentage of students passing those exams.
Maine South’s college-readiness index is calculated at 39.2. Both Park Ridge high schools are identified as having as a college-readiness index that is above the state’s average. A college-readiness index of 100 would mean every 12th-grade student took and passed at least one advanced-placement test, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, which ranked first in Illinois and 39th in the nation, has a college-readiness index of 92.1.
District 207 also points to errors in student demographics as reported by U.S. News. According to the U.S. News data there are no economically disadvantaged students in District 207. But the district says this statistic is false as Illinois School Report Cards for 2011 show 45 percent of Maine East students are classified as low-income, followed by 32 percent at Maine West and 7.7 percent at Maine South.
According to District 207, U.S. News uses a methodology in its ranking system that “rewards those schools whose economically disadvantaged students score above statistical expectations on standardized tests.” Taking into account the performance of the Maine schools’ low-income students could change their rankings, the district believes.
“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 Report for this report,” Wallace said. “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.”
U.S. News says information used in calculating its “Best Schools” list was obtained from the U.S. Department of Education, “among other sources.” Other schools in the country have claimed inaccurate data, including a Las Vegas high school that was ranked 13th in the nation, but reportedly has a much higher student population and lower advanced-placement-exam passing rate than U.S. News reported.