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Editorial: Newsweek High School List Could Be Vastly Improved

Congratulations to Jericho High School for coming in thirty-second in the nation and second in New York State on Newsweek’s annual “America’s Best High Schools” list. While there is much room for improvement in terms of the way the list is calculated, as detailed below, the fact remains that Jericho students consistently engaged challenging curriculum, and that should be celebrated. Syosset schools should be celebrated as well.

Both districts offer stellar instructional programs, however one- Jericho’s- is better suited to the hyper-narrow focus of the Newsweek list. Syosset, which offers honors classes and many college-level classes, such as the popular Syracuse English, is undervalued by Newsweek because they consider non-A.P college preparatory classes too difficult to measure.

Any formula meant to determine the “best” high school will be flawed, since so many factors that make up the overall high school experience cannot be quantified. But if some attempt were made to include honors classes in the calculations, it would be a much better system. If some attempt were made to give schools credit for offering a variety of A.P. classes, as opposed to one or two perennials, it would be a much better system. If some attempt were made to factor in the amount of humanities electives, extra-curricular clubs and sports teams available, it would be a much better system.

Furthermore, the reasons given for why Newsweek doesn’t measure any of the things suggested is because they are more difficult to measure. They are by no means impossible, or even necessarily impractical to measure- just difficult. The current measure is used not because it’s most accurate, but because it’s less difficult. If the medium is the message, this list- with its emphasis on ease rather than value represents the opposite of what we try to teach our children. Newsweek is capable of much better, and I hope future incarnations of the rankings will lead to both Jericho and Syosset High Schools getting the recognition they deserve.