The faculty, students, and alumni of Saxon Hall School, an independent boarding school in Southeastern Pennsylvania, released their annual rankings of secondary school ranking publications. Niche.com’s recent “2015 K-12 School and District Rankings” placed a disappointing 29th out of 36 similar publications.
Saxon Hall’s Head of School, Ken Turlington, noted that Niche’s rankings methodology seemed as lazy and unscientific as the other 36 high school ranking publications that have sprung up in recent years. However, Niche was penalized for not even hiring talentless, out-of-work, Millennial college grads to write summary paragraphs about each school. The Niche survey didn’t copy and paste photos of the schools taken from Google Images, nor did they present the schools in the standard listicle slideshow format.
“Niche.com really seems to be phoning it in,” said Turlington. “They just aggregate free data from the Department of Education, make a half-hearted attempt to get people to fill out a survey, and then slap some cheesy advertising on the page in order to make .001 cents per page impression.” Turlington continued, “Our survey gave their survey a D- based on their doomed business model and ineffective fear-mongering. I mean, when the US News and World Reports‘ survey ranks our school poorly, at least I get a couple of emails from parents. With the Niche.com survey, there was about twenty seconds of attention on Facebook, and then a loud thud.”
When asked why Saxon Hall’s survey gives D or F range grades to all 36 surveys that it ranks, Turlington cited their uniform methodological weakness. “None of these surveys hire the hundreds of full-time researchers necessary to conduct hours of site visits at each of the thousands of schools that they claim to rate. Nor do they conduct telephone interviews with students, parents, faculty, or alumni. Basically, they just look into a crystal ball and then irresponsibly hide behind their First Amendment rights to publish gossip and innuendo.”
“Perhaps someday a media company will invest the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to actually visit and research every high school in America,” said Turlington. “But until that time, the best surveys will mostly be vehicles for low-quality, click-bait cat videos and stuff from Buzzfeed.”
Cynthia Borger, an unemployed writer and recent graduate of Bard College, expressed outrage that none of the high school ranking businesses were interested in hiring her to invent things about the high schools and then write about it at a rate of two cents per word. “How are recent humanities majors like me supposed to build a trumped-up LinkedIn profile unless bottom feeders like these surveys hire us to crank out junk?” she asked. “I need to get published on some web sites somewhere in order to parlay that work into a $36,000 per year job at a dying glossy magazine company.” While Ms. Borger acknowledged that print media would soon be dead, she noted that, “They throw really great parties with lots of decent quality champagne.”