Photo/Jeremy Franklin

When Newsweek did its annual ranking of the nation’s top high schools, Berkeley High did very well — 271st out of tens of thousands of public schools. Now US News and World Report has jumped into the high school ranking fray, analyzing data from more than 21,000 public high schools “to find the very best”.

So where does BHS rank this time? Nowhere. The two reports use different methodologies. Newsweek takes the total number of AP, IB and Cambridge tests given at a school and divides it by the number of graduating seniors. Jay Mathews, who devised the ranking, explains the whys and wherefores here.

US News has a more complex methodology, explained here. There’s some opacity in the explanation, but it combines state reading and math test results, adjusted (in some unexplained way) for the number of economically disadvantaged students.  If the high school passes that hurdle, the performance of Black, Hispanic and low income students is examined. Only schools where these students do better than the state average for similar students are selected — which, given the gaping achievement gap, is presumably where BHS failed in this ranking. Only after that does the US News methodology look at AP and IB exam performance.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...