The North Bend Eagle


Web site ranks NBC high school fifth

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 11/26/14

It was quite the buzz on Twitter and Facebook last week when North Bend Central Junior-Senior High School was rated the fifth best public school in the state by

Wow! We were pretty proud of ourselves. And we have reason to be. But what is the reality of being rated? What is “Niche”?

Niche was founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University students. The web site’s goal is to provide students, families, and professionals with best-in-class content and deep insight into big life decisions — like where to send the kids to school.

“Every year, we help millions of people find their niche and thrive within it,” so the web site claims.

It claims that Niche K-12 ratings offer unique insight into more than 120,000 K-12 schools.

But where do they get the information that is used for ratings?

The web site states that the factual information comes from a variety of sources, including the “U.S. Department of Education’s NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) and IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System), the U.S. Census Bureau’s Five Year ACS (American Community Survey), the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Common Data Sets (reports released by some colleges and universities), and the Niche community (including participating school administrators who update their school’s information on our website).”

The web site evaluators manually review as much as they can to ensure the data presented is as accurate and meaningful as possible. Much of the data used is reported in non-uniform ways, and often with reporting errors. Niche claims to run statistical analysis on this data to detect outliers and also manually check and fix data where appropriate, especially to ensure presentation reflects the human touch that data can often lack.

Reviews and polls are submitted by people who have registered on the web site and have a current or recent association with a school, college or location.
The web site claims to make every effort that the information is accurate.
The K-12 school rankings are calculated by comparing a school’s assessment scores on state assessment tests with other schools in their state.

Now, what does being ranked fifth in the state mean?

Niche states that “A high ranking indicates that the school is an exceptional academic institution with a diverse set of high-achieving students who rate their experience very highly.”

NBC’s academics are ranked third in the state by the website, which gives the school A- for both academics and health and safety. The school received its lowest grade, a C, for diversity.

Not every school in Nebraska has been graded, but the web site has rated 125 public high schools in the state. The only three school rated higher than NBC are, in order, Millard North, Omaha Westside, Diller-Odell and Licoln East.
Take it how you want. It still feels good to be able to say our community school was rated fifth in the state.

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