Whether students are looking at middle schools or colleges, there are many websites online that offer interpretations of school rankings. Niche.com is one popular site that measures independent schools like Loomis Chaffee against their peer schools.
“Niche does rank schools in various categories. We are able to rank elementary, middle and high schools on the public side while we currently only rank private, K-12 schools that have high school grades offered,” said Niche Customer Success Manager, Mr. Jordan Bazzani.
For the 2020-2021 academic year, Loomis Chaffee was ranked the 13th best boarding high school in the US and the 3rd best boarding high school in Connecticut. Information of Loomis’s tuition, events, academics, culture and safety, boarding, students, teachers, and clubs and activities are available on the Niche website.
The Niche website states that it “ rigorously analyze[s] dozens of public data sets and over 100 million reviews and survey responses.”
In addition, the Niche ranking methodology is not only based upon academic statistics, but Niche also grades areas including sports, diversity, quality of school administration, etc.
“Rankings and grades are based on a number of factors which ultimately depend on the specific ranking being examined,” said Mr. Bazzani.
Specifically in ranking the best private high schools, Niche uses Composite SAT/ACT Score, Top Colleges Score, College Enrollment, Culture & Diversity Grade, Parent/Student Surveys on Overall Experience, and Student-Teacher Ratio weighted at 30%, 25%, 15%, 10%, 10%, and 10% respectively.
“Niche only uses responses from students and parents of their respective school for rankings purposes,” says Mr. Bazzani, recognizing that with many opinionated factors such as Parent/Student surveys being a factor taken into consideration when the school is ranked, the accuracy and authenticity of reviews are important.
Niche also uses quality control in analysing the self-reported user data and reviews such as ongoing community flagging/feedback which account for any anomalies and suspicious activity on the site.
“Niche employs a number of quality control measures when incorporating self-reported user data and user reviews. While there is no 100% foolproof way to ensure [the] data is accurate, these techniques are meant to minimize the impact of potentially erroneous data and [to] ensure that data at an aggregate level is representative for a given school,” said Mr. Bazzani.
Current LC students have used the Niche website to varying degrees.
While some students like Chelsea Ndzana-Zogo ’24 “didn’t look at Niche School rankings during the application process,” other students did take rankings into consideration when choosing schools.
“The Niche Rankings didn’t really affect my decision to apply to certain schools [but] I definitely referenced them when choosing which school I would attend,” said Zaylie Gore ’24.
Although these websites can be used, Dean of Enrollment, Mrs. Amy Thompson advises that “the school website and social media are the best sources of information because they are published by the institutions and therefore families know the information is up to date.”
In regard to non-Loomis websites, Mrs. Thompson said “[j]ust like with any research, using multiple sources and cross-checking them is the best way to form the most complete picture – and this year, it’s easier than ever to do that with the many virtual events being offered by schools.”