DECEPTION

Niche, Wichita Eagle push student achievement deception

A false sense of high achievement is one of the greatest barriers to students getting the education they need.  Many education officials go out of their way to obscure what’s really happening, and they got another assist recently from Niche.com and the Wichita Eagle.

The Eagle highlighted five high schools in the Wichita area with the highest Niche.com ratings – Andover Central, Andover High, Maize High, NE Magnet High in Wichita, and Maize Sr. High.  The Eagle published ACT scores reported by Niche.com that are easily shown to be inflated by checking the Kansas Department of Education website.

Andover Central is reported as having an average ACT score of 26, but according to KSDE, the real number is just 21.2.  NE Magnet has the largest gap – a score of 24 versus a real score of just 17.7.

niche.com 2023 ACT

The Niche.com methodology doesn’t explain how achievement scores are weighted or even which scores are included, and the company ignored our request for that information.  The Eagle aided and abetted the deception by not verifying the ACT scores and not disclosing that less than half of 10th-grade students were proficient in reading and math on the state assessment for each of the five area high schools.

An examination of other high schools in Kansas shows that Niche.com seems to consistently overstate ACT scores.  The overall grades given to schools and school districts are also grossly deceptive.

Of the 22 high schools we checked, 13 have more students below grade level in math than are proficient, and 11 have more students below grade level in English language arts than are proficient.  Niche.com gives overall grades of A or B to most of those schools.

Niche.com says its information helps people find school districts that are the right ‘fit’, and the rankings are published adjacent to homes for sale ads from other companies.

an ad for homes for sale on Niche.com

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