Recently, Chicago Magazine published an article about the “Best Elementary Schools in Chicago and the Suburbs.” The article included the criteria the magazine used to create its rankings and then listed the top schools in each collar county. When Avoca did not appear on the list, the District’s first reaction was that some sort of error must have occurred. Knowing that Avoca’s overall district ISAT scores for 2009 were top in the township and 4th in the state, and also knowing that Avoca ranked favorably in the township on the other criteria used in the rankings, an error on the part of the magazine was the only possible explanation. The administration contacted the editor of the magazine to express its concern and to demand that he look into the matter. After checking with his data specialist, the editor revealed that Avoca’s data was somehow “lost” during the analysis process due to a technological glitch, and Avoca’s two schools were completely left off of the rankings. The editor apologized profusely for the error and understood how this kind of mistake could lead to misconceptions among the school community about the quality of Avoca schools. The editor then readily agreed to rectify the error in the following manner:
> The magazine would rerun all the data, with Avoca included this time, and determine where Avoca’s two schools rankings should be.
> The rankings chart that is featured in the online version of the article would be revised to include the two Avoca schools.
> In the December print edition of the magazine, a correction would be printed. The correction will explain that Avoca was accidentally left off the original list and share what the schools’ rankings really were. It will also encourage readers to view the corrected online rankings chart.
When the data was rerun to include the two Avoca schools, Avoca West ranked 4th in Cook County and Marie Murphy was 7th in the county. These rankings were much more in line with other data the District has been gathering over the past several years.
It was important that Avoca followed up with the magazine to make these corrections. Not only is the District proud of its two schools, but these kinds of lists can affect people’s perceptions of school quality. Avoca has worked very diligently to make its schools beacons of excellence in the area, and it would have been very unfair to have a magazine’s error negate this effort by the Avoca school community. While this article does not reach the entire readership of Chicago Magazine, it is a start. Please feel free to spread the word to friends, neighbors and relatives in the area.