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Old 10-25-2017, 08:27 AM
 
5,178 posts, read 6,961,956 times
Reputation: 4799

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So out of curiosity as a local educator, I tried looking up some information about local schools online in a way that someone thinking of moving here might.

I just wanted to spread the warning that a lot of the sources of information are pretty terrible.

Greatschools.org seems to be popular but I found a lot of flaws with it.

1. Its data is inaccurate and at best about 3-4 years out of date - all the data, not just one piece or another - but every piece. A lot changes in a school in 3-4 years - their data is frankly worthless.

2. Its ratings seem to be based almost entirely on test scores, but only certain ones. A lot of our schools are under-ranked because of parents opting students out of taking standardized tests rather than actual poor performance.

3. Reviews are unreliable because I could find evidence that almost every top-reviewed school had solicited or coerced these reviews - I even found a few reports (location not mentioned) of parents of being told they were required to post 5 star reviews to get into the school (charters etc. mostly), etc.

For more accurate data, I suggest parents go to the Colorado Department of Education. https://www.cde.state.co.us/schoolview

And above all, I encourage parents to schedule visits with schools and go and see them for themselves.
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Old 10-25-2017, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
3,792 posts, read 3,433,214 times
Reputation: 6917
You are correct about that website. Schools that are closed, schools that are simply not listed, etc. Seems like a waste of time.
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Old 10-25-2017, 06:24 PM
 
Location: New York NY
4,218 posts, read 6,173,360 times
Reputation: 8924
GreatSchools is a very, very rough guide to school quality because, as was said, because the final score relies mainly on test scores. And test scores are mainly a reflection of family income. So all you learn is that when a school gets a '10' it probably draws from the most affluent people in that school district. Nothing more and nothing less. Even in big cities with lots of school choice, the rating will generally reflect schools with more affluent parents, no matter what part of the district they live in (although with some test-in schools, that isn't always true.)

Basically, GreatSchool ratings are a barometer of socio-economic status rather than school quality. And for sure the comments section can be gamed by administrators or groups of parents. I think people just give it more credibility than it deserves because it's just so damn easy to use. That site can be you first site for researching schools, but it sure shouldn't be the only way you do so.
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Old 10-26-2017, 04:13 PM
 
12,521 posts, read 27,631,868 times
Reputation: 7025
I've never recommended Great Schools because of what you mentioned and I think it's easy to be swayed by the very biased reviews. We have a good comparison site in Pennsylvania - Welcome to PA School Performance Profile and nationally, I recommend https://www.schooldigger.com/
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Old 10-26-2017, 04:16 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
33,396 posts, read 40,861,289 times
Reputation: 42583
Also, most school systems and State Departments of Education have updated information on schools. That was one of the requirements of NCLB, R3T and ESSA.
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Old 10-27-2017, 06:09 PM
 
28,201 posts, read 20,296,303 times
Reputation: 16559
The best rating you can get and make decisions on are from those who have kids in the schools. I don't trust rating sites at all.
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:32 AM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
16,396 posts, read 18,920,577 times
Reputation: 11975
Quote:
Originally Posted by citylove101 View Post
Basically, GreatSchool ratings are a barometer of socio-economic status rather than school quality.
That is because most people associate school quality with high socioeconomic status.

Nobody wants to send their children to a school filled mostly with poor children if they could afford to do otherwise.
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Old 11-03-2017, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Geneva, IL
56 posts, read 171,310 times
Reputation: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by otowi View Post
So out of curiosity as a local educator, I tried looking up some information about local schools online in a way that someone thinking of moving here might.

I just wanted to spread the warning that a lot of the sources of information are pretty terrible.

Greatschools.org seems to be popular but I found a lot of flaws with it.

1. Its data is inaccurate and at best about 3-4 years out of date - all the data, not just one piece or another - but every piece. A lot changes in a school in 3-4 years - their data is frankly worthless.

2. Its ratings seem to be based almost entirely on test scores, but only certain ones. A lot of our schools are under-ranked because of parents opting students out of taking standardized tests rather than actual poor performance.

3. Reviews are unreliable because I could find evidence that almost every top-reviewed school had solicited or coerced these reviews - I even found a few reports (location not mentioned) of parents of being told they were required to post 5 star reviews to get into the school (charters etc. mostly), etc.

For more accurate data, I suggest parents go to the Colorado Department of Education. https://www.cde.state.co.us/schoolview

And above all, I encourage parents to schedule visits with schools and go and see them for themselves.
Thank you for your post. We have been looking at school ratings in the Denver area using Redfin, which uses Greatschools, and have been a little surprised at the overall, let's just say 'not great' ratings.

I think saying that the data is 'worthless' may be a little strong, but that is your opinion. I think that any online review site of any kind, is gamed to some degree. For that reason, they should be used as only one of a set of tools or methods for rating anything from restaurants to home services to schools.

Do you think Denver, or Colorado in general, has more parents opting their kids out of the standardized testing? If so, why do you think that may be the case?
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:31 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
2,889 posts, read 5,190,673 times
Reputation: 3058
very over-rated. Only useful in forcing due diligence on schools rated 1-4.
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Old 11-04-2017, 06:13 AM
 
Location: So Ca
14,931 posts, read 14,348,315 times
Reputation: 12853
Quote:
Originally Posted by otowi View Post
Greatschools.org seems to be popular but I found a lot of flaws with it.
True. Like you, I've looked at the schools in my own district and found GreatSchools rankings to be way off in terms of accuracy.
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