Wednesday, June 5, 2013

District, critic argue value of survey

Woman previously encouraged district to seek ranking


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

    In May, valley resident Elizabeth Schwerdtle and several other Blaine County School District patrons criticized the district for promoting the fact that Wood River High School and Carey School had been ranked by Newsweek as among the 2,000 best high schools in the United States. The critics claimed that the rankings were misleading because only 2,500 high schools in the country applied to the Newsweek survey and that the rankings were based on self-reported and not independent data.
    However, documents show that Schwerdtle earlier encouraged the district to seek ranking by Newsweek. During public comment at a school board meeting on March 12, she was critical of the fact that none of the district’s high schools were ranked by either Newsweek or in a different ranking system by U.S. News and World Report.
    Earlier, in a letter to the school board dated June 26, 2012, Schwerdtle promoted the Newsweek ranking system as a “nationally recognized benchmark.”
    “Applying to the Newsweek list is something Liz Schwerdtle and others have encouraged the district to do for a long time,” said Heather Crocker, district communications director. “At the March 12 meeting, she spoke about the U.S. News and Newsweek lists, reminding the board of trustees that we had not made both lists. This has come up publicly at other meetings as well.”
    When the latest Newsweek rankings were released in early May and Wood River High School was ranked 865 and Carey School 1,001, Schwerdtle offered a different opinion of the ranking system, referring to it as “misleading” and a “marketing scam.”


Applying to the Newsweek list is something Liz Schwerdtle and others have encouraged the district to do for a long time.”
Heather Crocker
District communications director




    After the School District issued a news release on May 7 announcing the rankings and claiming that Wood River High School and Carey School were “two of the best high schools in the nation,” Schwerdtle wrote a letter to the school board criticizing the announcement and requesting that the “misinformation” be corrected on the district website.
    She explained in the letter that the Newsweek ranking system was earlier considered respectable but that Newsweek changed its data collection procedure two years ago and is now “done on the cheap with a small, self-selected group of schools who self-report their numbers in the survey.”
    “In fact, the supposedly national rankings included data from less than 2,500 schools out of over 21,000 nationwide,” Schwerdtle wrote in the letter. “So, over 80 percent of the schools that Newsweek surveyed are now being referred to as one of America’s best high schools. That would be like 80 percent of students being referred to as the best in the school.”
    Thus far, the School District has not complied with Schwerdtle’s request that the so-called “misinformation” be corrected on the district website. Instead, the website still lists the original news release regarding the Newsweek rankings.
    Schwerdtle issued the following written statement to the Idaho Mountain Express regarding her change of mind about the Newsweek ranking system:
    “This top high school ranking got us some publicity nationally, which is a good thing. The unfortunate part is that it was actually hard not to be on the list, since Newsweek gave four out of five schools that answered their survey an award for being a top U.S. high school. The district obviously cares about rankings, since they applied to be on this list, which is a good thing. So now let’s do it. Let’s earn a spot on a national ranking that has some integrity. The community would welcome that.”
Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads





Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.