Consider this high-minded conclusion in their report: A successful high school should show high levels of student achievement, graduate almost all of its students and not let any demographic subgroup suffer at the expense of others. In a perfect world, I would not dispute that. But in the real world that means C. Leon King High School in Tampa does not belong on the best schools list because of its high dropout rate and low average test scores, even though Newsweek ranked it 73rd in the country in AP and IB test participation last year.
Asked to comment on the notion that her school ought to be taken off the list, Susie L. Johnson, assistant principal for the school’s IB magnet curriculum, said: “Honestly, that is ridiculous.”
Whoops. Did I say she runs the magnet curriculum? The Education Sector report dismissed magnets, special programs that draw students from outside school boundaries, as a sneaky way for schools like King to look good on the Newsweek list. In fact, it said, a school with a small number of students taking many tests will receive a high Challenge Index score even if it is providing a lousy education to the rest of it students.