US News was once a magazine, but these days it's arguably most famous as a Ranker of Things, especially schools. They rank colleges and high schools annually, and despite the fact that these rankings are hugely questionable (see here, here and here), they are uncritically reprinted, quoted, and used by the fortunate top tier as a marketing tool.
So I'm sure from their perspective it makes sense to extend the brand by ranking elementary and middle schools. This is just as bad an idea as you think it is, and raises some big questions.
How do they do it?
I first guessed a system that used darts, a blindfold, and the broad side of a barn. But no--it's worse than that.Scoring was almost entirely rooted in students’ performance on mathematics and reading/language arts state assessments.