It’s every math teacher’s mantra: Check your work.
Apparently, Standard & Poor’s didn’t.
The financial services giant, which analyzed data for U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural ranking of America’s top 100 schools, made a mistake in calculating the score for Montpelier High School and erroneously ranked it the nation’s fifth-best public high school.
Turns out, the magazine now says, the school’s among the top 500 of 18,000 high schools nationally but not the top five, as the magazine reported in its “America’s Best High Schools” rankings Dec. 1.
“We feel terrible about having gotten it wrong in the first instance,” said Brian Kelly, the magazine’s editor. “We’re in the business of getting these numbers right. It’s particularly embarrassing that we’re in the business of judging people based on their math scores, and we got our math wrong.”
The error will be acknowledged in the U.S. News & World Report magazine hitting newsstands Dec. 17 and will be fixed in the online rankings, according to Kelly, who wrote a letter of apology to Montpelier school officials Monday.
School officials ferreted out the mistake and brought it to the magazine’s attention.
The No. 5 ranking had triggered an outpouring of community pride. Word of the ranking had traveled far and wide, eliciting notes of pride from graduates and former residents of Vermont’s capital city. The ranking was prominently displayed on a sign in front of the school.
The principal at the 396-student school ordered a staffer to remove the No. 5 mention from the sign, and went on the public address system to tell the students.
“We were up there among all these schools for the talented and gifted, with special names, and then here we are ‘Montpelier High School,’ named after our town,” said Nate Ingham, 17, a senior. “It was funny that such a national thing that could be messed up so badly, and that it would happen to us.”
Sophia Manley, a 15-year-old sophomore, said she wasn’t shocked to hear the announcement about the goof.
“I don’t really see us as one of the most amazing schools ever,” she said.