The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research released in the fall of 2015 a website, SchoolGrades.org, which claims to use an international standard of excellence to grade how well America’s schools prepare students in core subjects. AISR Principal Associate Jaime L. Del Razo, Ph.D., and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Brown University’s Department of Education, reviewed the website for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education, and concluded that grading projects of this sort are only as useful as the transparency and merits of the underlying data and calculations. In this case, the site is rife with technical and logical shortcomings.
"...The Manhattan Institute's SchoolGrades.org evaluates and assigns grades, using reading and math test scores, to U.S. schools and compares schools across their respective states and to other countries. They apparently use a four-step process: (1) average two state test scores; (2) 'norm' these results to the NAEP exam; (3) make an adjustment to this national normed measure using free and reduced price lunch data to account for SES; and (4) 'norm' these results to the international PISA exam. The claim is that this process allows a parent to compare a local school to schools in their state and to other countries like South Korea and Lithuania. But the unsubstantiated norming chain is too tenuous and the results are overly extrapolated to be of any useful value."