I think, if you consider that the job of a school is to educate people, then if 42 can turn someone with little education into an average to great programmer, that's a great accomplishment. In comparison, Ecole normale sup turns extremely bright and knowledgeable people into great programmers, not such a great accomplishment IMO.
Well, that's not what the article says.
"Last year, 70,000 people attempted the online qualification test. ... In the end, 890 students were selected for the school’s inaugural class"
But I agree that it's difficult to judge the quality of formation considering that the student populations are different. But still, I don't see how how throwing programming challenges at CS beginners with no supervision can be better than university professors.
Last year, 70,000 people attempted the online qualification test. 20,000 completed the test, and of those, 4,000 were invited to spend four weeks in Paris doing an intensive project that had them working upwards of 100 hours a week on various coding challenges. In the end, 890 students were selected for the school’s inaugural class, which began in November, 2013.
Not true :(
Even though I thought I completely blew the preliminary tests I then received a mail telling me I wasn't accepted.
Although as an aside, my female friend who gave up before finishing and completed less of the tests than me got in, so I'm not sure I would even want to be accepted now but still, there is some heavy pruning going on.