Errors Found in US News ‘Best High School’ Rankings

Faulty data may have compromised the latest edition of the U.S. News and World Report ranking of the nation's best high schools. Although Nevada's Green Valley High School was honored to have found itself listed as the 13th best school in the U.S, when the principal got a look in the list he immediately realized that the placement was based on misinformation. The USN&WR list, which was embargoed until Tuesday of this week, lists Green Valley as having a 477 student enrollment with 100% of the students taking Advanced Placement exam getting a passing grade of 3 or above. In reality, the student body is actually 2,850-student strong and slightly more than 2/3rd of those who sit AP exams end up passing them.

But the data for Green Point wasn't the only source for error in the report. Although the number of school districts in Nevada was listed correctly at 17, the number of students and faculty was widely off the mark. While the U.S. News numbers show that the entire state is home to 5,864 full-time teachers and 123,697 students, in reality the Clark County district alone has nearly 19,000 teachers and over 300,000 students. As a matter of fact, Clark County is the fifth-largest school district in the entire country.

Some speculate that errors such as these were the reason why the publication of the report was pushed back a week from its initially scheduled release on May 1st. U.S. News attributed the delay to a need to integrate some additional data into the rankings and to evaluate their internal error-checking mechanisms.

Although Green Point's high ranking might be somewhat borrowed feathers, fifteen Nevada Schools got special mentions in the report. None made it nearly as high as Green Point, but Advanced Technologies Academy came in at 339, and the Northwest Career and Technical Academy was ranked 1950th. The other 12 schools weren't assigned a rank, but were included in the list of the 4,813 best national high schools.

Green Valley's Horn said he was surprised by his school's ranking earlier Monday morning. Green Valley had been ranked several times by national publications such as Newsweek — which used a different methodology — but the Gators never broke past the top 100, much less the top 15 ranking.

Horn said he was confused by the U.S. News ranking when he discovered Monday night that some of the data used in the methodology was incorrect.

05 10, 2012
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