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Old 10-01-2011, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Keller, TX
112 posts, read 247,732 times
Reputation: 39

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I've been trying to figure out how a relocator can truly determine the quality of a given (public K-12) school.

I can peruse the Great Schools website, but their rankings appear to be based solely on % of students passing a test, and thus is highly dependent on the socioeconomic status of the surrounding neighborhood, and not necessarily how well the school operates and how well those teachers actually teach. And I don't really find the parent reviews helpful enough.

Or, one could check the TEA accountability ratings, but those, too, strike me as quite crude, and a similar approach as the Great Schools ratings.

Is there even a way to objectively measure the quality of a school's teaching staff? To measure the safety and stability and discipline?

I've been advised to visit a school to see it function first-hand. I think that's great advice, but it becomes problematic when you are trying to evaluate a dozen ISDs and scores of schools.

So any suggestions on how to uncover the hidden gems in an area, the ones that are doing an excellent job teaching and developing children, but score low on the Great Schools scale?
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:04 AM
 
2,596 posts, read 4,639,998 times
Reputation: 3949
Honestly, I don't think there is without visiting in person.

"Quality" means different things to different people. To one family, it may mean bilingual instruction. They want a multi-cultural experience and the opportunity to pick up another language in elementary school. The next family is incensed that their child is in a class taught half in Spanish when they don't speak Spanish in their home. They worry their child will fall behind if not instructed solely in English.

Online sites can only provide so much information. TEA ratings are one piece of information, but they are considered flawed by many, in that you can have a school that is very strong overall, but because one sub-group scores a little low (this can mean 10 kids scored poorly in one subject, even if hundreds had excellent scores and the school overall is great) the school is given a poor rating. Sites open for parent comments can be useful as well, until you remember that one person with a bone to pick may go back and masquerade as many, skewing the "facts" you're reading.

I would narrow it down to the area you're interested in, then make a trip out to visit.
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Keller, TX
112 posts, read 247,732 times
Reputation: 39
for those not in Texas, TEA refers to the Texas Education Agency, which rates schools with their "accountability rating system".

Originally wrote this for one of the Texas forums, but decided to post it here instead.
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
86,093 posts, read 69,893,919 times
Reputation: 27519
I think the TEA reports should give you all you need to know.
% pass on the tests, demographic breakdown, economically challenged, free/reduced lunch, passed, retained, etc.
And you can look over several years of the same school to see if they've improved or worsened.
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:24 PM
 
572 posts, read 1,070,834 times
Reputation: 422
Parental ratings on Great Schools are telling too. If the school has great scores and the parental ratings are low, I will attempt to keep my children out of the schools. Same if the scores are low, but the parental ratings are high-- then I will attempt to send my children there. Also many schools are individual. For example, my daughter goes to one school in the district that's absolutely fabulous. She is learning Spanish, she's learning how to read, they are assessing her for giftedness. The school that my son is going to (special needs) on the other hand, is horrible. After we enrolled him, we discovered several parental complaints, including the teacher he currently has telling her children with autism that they were naughty when they were stimming, and that the teacher teaches 8 children with behavioral issues and is not trained to restrain said children. I could go on and on.

When you look at great schools, the school rating is excellent according to test scores, but if you look at parental ratings. The school my son attends there is ONE positive report (and that was not even a parent) and the rest are negative.
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Old 10-01-2011, 04:55 PM
 
12,454 posts, read 27,074,960 times
Reputation: 6946
I use this site SchoolDigger.com - School Rankings, Reviews and More - Public and Private Elementary, Middle, High Schools to look at a schools stats and to compare similar schools in an area. But as other people have said, your really have to visit to get the real feel. I don't like review sites for schools. One dissatisfied parent can make a school have a low rating and we all know, that it's often the dissatisfied customers that speak up.
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Old 10-01-2011, 05:03 PM
 
Location: In the clouds
861 posts, read 853,675 times
Reputation: 599
college prowler
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:32 PM
 
12,454 posts, read 27,074,960 times
Reputation: 6946
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetdreamerx0 View Post
college prowler
OP is looking at public K- 12 schools.
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Please follow THESE rules.

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Old 10-02-2011, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,708,331 times
Reputation: 14495
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolina Texan View Post
I've been trying to figure out how a relocator can truly determine the quality of a given (public K-12) school.

I can peruse the Great Schools website, but their rankings appear to be based solely on % of students passing a test, and thus is highly dependent on the socioeconomic status of the surrounding neighborhood, and not necessarily how well the school operates and how well those teachers actually teach. And I don't really find the parent reviews helpful enough.

Or, one could check the TEA accountability ratings, but those, too, strike me as quite crude, and a similar approach as the Great Schools ratings.

Is there even a way to objectively measure the quality of a school's teaching staff? To measure the safety and stability and discipline?

I've been advised to visit a school to see it function first-hand. I think that's great advice, but it becomes problematic when you are trying to evaluate a dozen ISDs and scores of schools.


So any suggestions on how to uncover the hidden gems in an area, the ones that are doing an excellent job teaching and developing children, but score low on the Great Schools scale?
Look at information on free/reduced lunches. That will give you some insight into the demographics of the area. Also, look at the cost of housing as compared to the rest of the state.

You might want to try sending emails to parent groups in the schools you're interested in. You really need the opinoin of someone in the district for what you want. Try asking on the boards here for the area you're interested in.
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Old 10-02-2011, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Keller, TX
112 posts, read 247,732 times
Reputation: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
I use this site SchoolDigger.com - School Rankings, Reviews and More - Public and Private Elementary, Middle, High Schools to look at a schools stats and to compare similar schools in an area. But as other people have said, your really have to visit to get the real feel. I don't like review sites for schools. One dissatisfied parent can make a school have a low rating and we all know, that it's often the dissatisfied customers that speak up.
thanks for that link! wasn't familiar with schooldigger. really liking it so far.
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