Brand new list ranks 80 percent of the best elementary and middle schools

Rankings aim to put assessment data into the context of demographics and other factors
By: | October 14, 2021

You can now add U.S. News’ just launched Best Middle and Elementary School rankings to all the other accountability pressures that have been placed on K-12 administrators.

U.S. News, best known for its headline-grabbing college rankings, rated about 81% of the nation’s public and private elementary and middle schools in the directory that debuted on Tuesday.

“Unlike the high school rankings, there are no national rankings of elementary and middle schools,” U.S. News said in an article announcing the directory. But it does rank some schools within districts and states: “Scoring was almost entirely rooted in students’ performance on mathematics and reading/language arts state assessments.”

U.S. News says the state assessments are a sign of how well schools are educating students, including “children from low-income households and children from historically underserved ethnicities.” U.S. News rankings team also says it has attempted to put assessment data into the context of demographics and other factors.

“We believe that is more useful than simply looking at test results to evaluate schools because this process resembles to a certain extent how education administrators and researchers consider school performance,” U.S. News says.

The rankings are based on U.S. Department of Education data from the 2018-2019 academic year prior to COVID’s vast disruptions. The 2021 list comprises 118,332 public and private grade schools, among which 79,941 are ranked; this includes 47,325 elementary schools and 23,255 middle schools.

“For each state, schools were assessed on their shares of students who were proficient or above proficient in their mathematics and reading/language arts state assessments,” U.S. News says. “Half the formula was the results themselves; the other half was the results in the context of socioeconomic demographics. In other words, the top-ranked schools are all high achieving and have succeeded at educating all their students.”