The May 28th issue of Newsweek included their list of the top 100 High Schools in America. In theory, it is a good idea to rate schools by how well they prepare the children entrusted to their care, but the actual practice of rating can give false impressions. It all depends on how do they judge greatness. In the case of Newsweek, they rated the schools by the number of students participating in advanced programs such as AP and International Baccalaureate in addition to what percentage of people receive subsidized lunches. None of which in reality is an indication of how well they are preparing students to either enter the work force or to continue their education at the collegiate level.
Why you ask?
It is simple one can take AP, IB classes and tests to their hearts content and still be inadequately prepared for the rigors of the workforce or for college. This is particularly true for students who have excellent memories and/or are exceptionally bright and quick. Students who fall in to this category can easily coast through AP and IB courses with little in the way of a work ethic, thus leaving them unprepared for the expectations of higher learning. A more accurate reading would be a study of how well their graduates performed in the workforce or in collegiate studies. Then they could have a measure of how well the schools prepared their students. But, then that would require work and we couldn't have a quick easy way to spew out meaningless data to get people to read a magazine.
P.S. Hey Newsweek, I didn't go to a school that offered AP or IB but I think they did a fair job preparing me considering I maintained between a 3.3 and a 3.6 all the way up until I had a mini breakdown after being denied admission to Vet School.