OES View on School Rankings

Dear Parents,

In the fall of 2014, Niche (a Pittsburgh based consumer research site) which started as a college rankings service, developed a new K-12 school rankings list. Unknown to most independent schools, the rankings were released with less than a week's prior notice to the schools listed in their rankings.

We were thrilled to be ranked so highly — our faculty, staff, and students work hard to make OES an incredibly strong school in ways valued by our families as well as the ranking service. However, after taking a moment to celebrate, we thought about the impact of the college-ranking industry on higher education, and we worried that such endeavors are inherently flawed for schools that strive to meet very different and important missions.

Excellent schools come in all shapes and sizes — public and independent and parochial — and they serve different constituents and work toward different purposes. Ranking schools on a single scale, such as Niche does, doesn’t celebrate or acknowledge these differences in schools. We feel strongly that schools should be measured — as our accreditation process does — on our ability to meet our mission, and to deliver our promise to families.

In consultation with the board of trustees, fellow heads of schools, and our national and regional associations, OES opted not to participate in submitting information for future rankings. We have closely watched how this has played out in higher education with the US News and World Report, and have been disappointed in how the rankings have started to drive individual school actions and decisions. As Reed College explains about their decision to not participate in the college rankings, “We believe that the value of an education is directly related to the degree of intellectual engagement in the classroom — something that cannot be measured.”

If you would like to read more, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) offers a statement on school rankings which articulates many of these same points.

Warmly,

Mo Copeland
Head of School

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