Holy Cross Professor on Why State School Rankings Are ‘Virtually Worthless,’ Reform Needed

CommonWealth Magazine
February 9th, 2018 by 

Professor Jack Schneider of the Education Department, and Director of Research at the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment.
Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education and director of research for the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment Photo by: Austin Bosworth

Choosing a school for your child can be a daunting task, and state-issued rankings are not making this choice easier. In an article published by CommonWealth Magazine, Holy Cross assistant education professor and director of research for the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment Jack Schneider explains the faults behind state-issued rankings and the need for more accessible, more expansive rankings.

Schneider argues that state-issued rankings are an incomplete picture of a school’s quality. Most impacted by standardized test scores in Math and English, these rankings fail to take into account what parents value most in their child’s school, such as quality and diversity of the teachers and administrators, school safety and discipline, college and career readiness, class sizes, and the values promoted by the school.

“For the past generation we have been evaluating schools in a manner that is misleading at best—ranking schools according to incomplete criteria and fostering the misconception that schools are either ‘good’ or ‘bad,'”Schneider wrote.

Rather than classifying a school based on a five-point scale, Schneider believes the more details a parent has only further informs their choice, and that parents “are hungry for information about school quality, and they will use whatever they can get their hands on. That should be a call to arms for collecting and disseminating better data—a project that many, including leaders at the state and local level are currently invested in.”

Schneider has been a leader in the drive for more accurate school quality measurements, publishing a book last year titled “Beyond Test Scores,” and continually advocating for reform through interviews and opinion articles.

To read more, visit CommonWealthMagazine.com.

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Comments (1)
  1. Jeremy Hillcrest says:

    “what parents value most in their child’s school, such as quality and diversity of the teachers and administrators, school safety and discipline, college and career readiness, class sizes, and the values promoted by the school.”

    How many children does Mr Schneider have entering or actively evaluating colleges? The reason I ask is because I know of no one who lists any of the above criteria as what they “value most”, with the exception of “career readiness”. Parents are concerned about getting best ROI on their investment. That ROI is measured in dollars. The hard truth is that parents want to make sure that their children will be able to make a comfortable living in their post-college careers. If that cannot be reasonably assured, than any amount of money spent on college is for naught. All of the other aforementioned items are VERY distant seconds.

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