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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

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Latin's Ranked #1

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Johnny Gross Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 9.10.12 PM This past week Latin students scrolled through the panels of Facebook with pride toward the latest rankings of the best private high schools in Illinois. These 2015 Niche rankings placed the Latin School of Chicago number one, above excellent private high schools such as the Lab School and Lake Forest Academy. The Latin School of Chicago was awarded an A+ in Academics, Administration Policies, and Admissions, A+ in Educational Outcomes, and an A+ in Teachers. Along with being ranked number one in the city and the state, Latin was ranked the 34th best private high school in the nation. While most would agree that Niche hit the nail on the head with these rankings, some question their accuracy and legitimacy. In a recent article in The Times-Picayune, the chief executive of Country Day private school in Louisiana, questioned the methods of Niche. Country Day was ranked number 2 out of 93 private high schools in Louisiana. However, the chief executive was still skeptic of Niche’s rankings. Niche largely considers feedback from parents, students, and alumni without taking into account much else other than GPA and SAT scores. Critics have also averred that Niche doesn’t reach enough parents, alumni, and students to obtain a valid assessment of the school. Furthermore, many argue that parent reviews and test scores can’t possibly be sufficient to assess the standing of a private high school. Student-to-student relationships and student-to-teacher relationships are difficult to take into account with the limited resources that Niche utilizes. The Niche website, run by CEO Luke Skurman, argues that their rankings are helpful as they “[transform] the way people make big life decisions. By providing review and insight from everyday experts, we make choosing a neighborhood, college, or K-12 school a more transparent process […] Every year, we help millions of people find their niche and thrive within it.” The website argues that Niche’s Local, K-12, and College rankings are thorough and tremendously helpful. The Local ranking system ranks every neighborhood and city in America to help people find the most pleasant and long-lasting place to raise a family. The rankings are accompanied by statistics about every neighborhood so that each family can make an informed decision. Niche ranks over 120,000 K-12 schools across America using school reviews and student outcomes to give their users all the information they need. Their college-ranking subset, which is called CollegeProwler, is perhaps the most thorough. “Students can read more than 1 million in-depth student reviews on more than 8,000 schools, get college recommendations, explore majors, and get matched to more than 3.2 million scholarships.”   So the argument is split. There are many who accuse Niche for ranking on an illegitimate system and there are many who strongly argue otherwise. But is this really what matters? If Niche rankings are, in fact, a poorly informed ranking system, does that really jeopardize the standing of the Latin School of Chicago? When asked why he thought Latin is the number one school in the state, sophomore Luccas Eagles said, “Because all of the teachers are so passionate about the subjects they teach. They care so much about each individual student, which makes each class so engaging and enjoyable. Also, I have so many great friends at Latin, because everyone here is so nice and welcoming.” The reality is that no one list of rankings can definitively decide what the best private high school in the state is. Each person values different aspects of a school: some might care the most about inexpensive tuition, others might care most about small student-teacher ratios, and some might care most about GPA and average ACT scores. It is difficult to determine whether Niche’s rankings, or any other private high school rankings, are accurate or not. What matters is that to us, the Latin School of Chicago is the best school in the state because, as Luccas pointed out, it is filled to the brim with our values: incredible teachers and faculty, a kind and intelligent student body, and a profound sense of community. We are all lucky to be a part of it.  ]]>

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  • S

    sfriptJan 16, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment David. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing us ranked as we were, but I also agree with your thoughts about rankings.

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  • D

    dmarshallJan 16, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Great article, Johnny, and really well researched!
    I appreciate Niche’s answer to how and why their service is helpful. Attention to specific variables do make comparison easier, but, though I’m sorry to diminish anyone’s pride in Latin, ranking seems altogether silly to me. It suggests these few aspects of a school are all that’s important, the sole basis for determining a school’s quality. I’m proud to teach at Latin, but schools come in all shapes and sizes and—especially—perspectives on what education IS.
    Particularly in independent education, school cultures are unique, suited to some and not to others. We could compare fruit the way Niche does, on the basis of a handful of variables—say, sweetness and fiber and how people like them—but that would tell us nothing about how different an apple and pineapple taste. You have to visit a school, get to know its educational philosophy, the sort of teachers it attracts, and the students who thrive there. Then, if you like, you can make a personal ranking, which is the only ranking that really matters. I wonder if any good school is good for everyone.

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