When I trashed private schools in a recent column because they hid their data to avoid comparison with other schools, I expected criticism. But the reaction was surprisingly friendly. I am apparently not the only past or present private school parent who rejects the widespread view among headmasters that we cannot intelligently assess comparative statistics.
The one complaint was from Washington International School head of school Clayton W. Lewis, after I ranked his school very high on my latest High School Challenge list. He sent this message to his school community:
“By their nature, ranking systems are based on minimal and inconclusive data and highlight only a small window of what a school has to offer, leaving out the particular strengths that are quite often the final determination in finding the best fit for an individual student. Because we realize choosing a school is a significant, very personal experience, we prefer individuals to develop their own ‘ranking’ based on informed research, including visits to the school.”