Adjusting the Best High Schools Rankings for Government Data Errors

Ranked schools with incorrect government data will be unranked in the 2012 edition.

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After the online release of the U.S. News 2012 Best High Schools rankings on May 8, it became evident that some of the data that U.S. News obtained from the federal government was incorrect for a small number of public high schools. The data came from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which collects data from states for all public elementary and secondary schools annually and publishes that data on the Common Core of Data (CCD) website.

The federal government has notified U.S. News of errors in some of the CCD data that U.S. News used. The high school data that was incorrect was based on data collected in the 2009-2010 school year, and the errors were in enrollment, ethnicity, faculty counts, and participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs.

As a result of these errors in the federal government data, the U.S. News rankings for schools with these data errors were not correct.

[Get answers to questions about the Best High Schools rankings.]

The Department of Education is now in the process of checking the accuracy of all gold, silver, and bronze medal winners in our latest Best High Schools rankings and says it will begin to post the names of the high schools with errors in their federal data as it uncovers them during the revalidation process. The NCES issued a statement on May 16 further explaining the data issues and the process that it is implementing to address these issues.

The Department of Education has told U.S. News that it eventually plans to post correct data for the schools with errors. For now, the Department of Education has deleted the incorrect data from its Common Core of Data website.

As of May 22, 2012, there are four schools that were gold medal winners in the Best High Schools rankings that the government has identified as having incorrect data in the NCES database that impacted those schools' rankings. As a result, U.S. News is changing these schools from being ranked to unranked in the 2012 edition of Best High Schools and removing any incorrect data that originated from the Department of Education's website.

These four schools are now unranked in the 2012 Best High Schools rankings:

Dublin High School (California)

Estrella Foothills High School (Arizona)

Green Valley High School (Nevada)

San Marcos High School (California)

In the future, if the government discloses that there are more ranked schools with errors in data that were used in the rankings calculations, U.S. News will address those on a periodic basis, as appropriate.

Part of our intent of ranking the Best High Schools and publishing data for nearly every U.S. public high school is to help consumers by standardizing the reporting and transparency of high school-level data from every state—just as we have done for higher education data over the last two decades in our Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools rankings.

Standardization and transparency are continuing to improve. We also think that the types of data available for evaluating high schools will continue to expand in the coming years.