Jay Mathews writes about education for the Washington Post. Although he and I don’t always agree (he is a huge admirer of KIPP and wrote a book about it), I have always found him to be extremely congenial. He recently sent me the following note, asking for a correction, and I asked and received his permission to post it in full. I don’t recall whether Tom or I wrote the sentence he quotes, but I want to set the record straight no matter who wrote it.

He wrote:

Hi Diane—-I was having fun reading Tom Ultican’s blog, then found something you wrote last year that needs a slight correction. You said:

Mathew’s methodology has now become the US News and World report ranking of “the best high schools” in the nation.

Many people have the same impression. It is hard to keep this stuff straight. My methodology has NOT become the US News high school list. I started mine in 1998. It ran in Newsweek for many years. US News started theirs in 2007. Their method is quite complex, with an emphasis on average test scores and extra points for low income schools that show test score gains. They also include something similar to my counting participation in AP and IB tests, but it is a small part of their method. I like the US News guys but complain that any method that includes test scores becomes misleading. I have noted frequently that their number one school, Thomas Jefferson, in a system that is supposed to detect the best low income schools, has only 2 percent of its students from low income families.

My Challenge Index list is now on my website, jaymathewschallengeindex.com. I exclude TJ and all other public schools that have average SAT or ACT scores above the highest average for any neighborhood high school in the country.

I hope you are having a splendid summer. —jay