South Side was once again named one of the best high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report and The Washington Post, which both released their school rankings this week.
According to U.S. News, South Side ranked 109 nationally and 15 in New York in the publication’s list of the best high schools. The Washington Post, which publishes a list of the most challenging high schools, named SSHS 177 nationally and 11 in the state.
While being named to the lists reflects the hard work that teachers, administrators and students all put in at South Side, it’s also somewhat questionable: the school was not ranked by U.S. News last year, despite consistently being high on the list in the past.
“If there’s going to be ranking, of course you’d rather be on it than not on it,” said SSHS Principal John Murphy. “But we’re always going to questions what the index is measuring.”
Murphy said that, after the school was omitted from the list last year, he and then-principal Dr. Carol Burris filed complaints with U.S. News and Newsweek, which also publishes high school rankings, about the way they were ranking schools.
“Maybe they corrected the mistakes we brought to their attention,” he said. “We’re the same school we were last year. I did not have that profound of an effect [when I became principal].”
Murphy said that, while it’s of course good to have South Side recognized, the rankings themselves focus mostly on student performance on tests like the Advance Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. But there are things the rankings gloss over.
“The arts programs, the vibrant theater, the Centre Stage productions,” Murphy said. “This is all part of a fabric of a school.
“It’s great and it’s laudable,” he later added, “but I really keep it arm’s length.”