Good news! NYT education columnist, part-time FairTest flack, confuser of NYC parents, and anti-NCLB propagandist Michael Winerip has, pace today’s column, discovered disaggregated data. He criticizes Jay Mathews’ “Challenge Index” because “Newsweek’s one-variable-takes-all ratings of the 1,200 best high schools are often at odds with federal, state and local assessment systems that typically use more than a dozen measurements of performance.” Gosh, sounds bad, and from reading Winerip all these years I thought that the federal law was horribly one size fits all and that state accountability systems were no picnic either! That’s in no small part because Winerip, of course, has turned using a “single standard” to castigate NCLB into an art form and doesn’t have much good to say about NY’s system either.
In any event, cutting through all the irony Winerip is right here. The Challenge Index is a flawed measure of the nation’s “best” high schools except under a very loose definition of that term. Sara Mead and I explain why here (pdf). As Winerip notes, it’s to his credit that Jay has acknowledged the criticism in the Post and in Newsweek but it would be great if they changed it, too.