Response to Niche

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

Questions have arisen at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School about the Niche.com list of Best Private Schools. I write recognizing that some may question Niche’s rankings. 

Let me assure you that our comparative data places us among the top Missouri private schools.  Ranking by Niche depends on responses to its survey from parents, students, and alumnae. A look at the survey, however, raised many questions, among them methodology and student privacy. We consulted the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), who discouraged participation.

NAIS, of which we are a member, states: “As with all questions related to elementary and secondary education, we must keep our focus on the children's best interests. The National Association of Independent Schools is and always has been opposed to the ranking of schools. The "best" school—public, parochial or independent—is the one that uniquely meets the needs of each particular child.”

NAIS Statement on Bad Data

Niche is a for-profit company that takes its playbook from the wildly successful U.S. News & World Report college rankings—a publication that has influenced college selections for decades despite its well-refuted methodology.

In Niche's Top 20 Private High Schools in the U.S., the variability in the data is striking. One school supplied 138 SAT scores; another school just 19 SAT scores. Some schools provided no parent/student survey information; other schools were evaluated and given a grade using a tiny sample. This is, in a word, shameful as well as deceptive. Other "quality indicators" used and mangled by Niche are equally suspect. Its Terms of Use section actually warns users that they make no promise to publish accurate information. Stunning in its admission.

Niche Terms of Use

At Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, we are committed to academic excellence, the development of strong personal values, and a mission that educates students to take responsibility for transforming the world. 

With gratitude,
Michael F. Baber
Head of School 

Posted December 2016