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Old 07-08-2007, 02:10 PM
 
31 posts, read 192,442 times
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Hello,
I was wondering what you all think are the best statistics to use when trying to assess the academic strength of a school. I know this is a very controversial topic, but I am interested in the opinions of you all as I am wrestling with this question in my own mind. We will be moving to MA in the next several months and this question is relevant for me since I have children and am trying to compare school systems.
Many thanks in advance for your insight.
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Old 07-08-2007, 02:30 PM
 
11 posts, read 46,552 times
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Try this site -- Schooldigger.com -- Search and compare elementary, middle, and high schools.. I particularly liked just scrolling through the schools as they ranked (i.e., top down and bottom up). I believe it bases its rankings on results of the statewide MCAS scores.

This site: Great Schools is also helpful.

Good luck.
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Old 07-08-2007, 03:54 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
7,623 posts, read 11,474,450 times
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This one is good, lots of graphs :Schools, High School, Public Schools, School District, Public High Schools - SchoolMatters
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Old 07-08-2007, 05:16 PM
 
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I first look at student to teacher ratio. I don't focus so much on MCAS scores because standardized testing has been found to have major flaws.

Another good area to look is each school system's website to gain insight into events, sports, and other activities available. I know some parents have even requested a meeting with a Superintendent or Principal to get a feel for the school's individual policies.

Other than that, all these websites are just demographic stats- there is no way that will ever tell you truly how a school really is!
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:11 PM
 
31 posts, read 192,442 times
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Thanks for these websites-- I am having fun playing around with them and looking at the stats on the towns we are considering.

NY'er-- I was hoping that you could expand on why you find student to teacher ratio a particularly helpful statistic... I started looking at schools with which I am more familiar (I grew up in MA) and I didn't find low student to teacher ratios to be consistent with some schools that I know by most assessments would be considered stronger than others (for ex. Wayland's s:t ration is 14.2 while Waltham's is 11.5 and I think most would consider Wayland to have a stronger school system than Waltham...) Anyway, I agree with you that using standarized tests as a measure is extremely problematic, but I am still at a loss as to what else to look at. And unfortunately, I won't be able to visit the schools since we are moving from the mid-Atlantic.

I actually would prefer my kids not go to one of the really high-pressure, top-performing schools in MA as I think they are too much pressure and typically not very diverse (in many different ways). That being said, I'd like them to have a good education and have plenty of kids that are also interested in school.

More thoughts from anyone out there?
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:36 PM
 
735 posts, read 3,212,212 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katezli View Post
NY'er-- I was hoping that you could expand on why you find student to teacher ratio a particularly helpful statistic... I started looking at schools with which I am more familiar (I grew up in MA) and I didn't find low student to teacher ratios to be consistent with some schools that I know by most assessments would be considered stronger than others (for ex. Wayland's s:t ration is 14.2 while Waltham's is 11.5 and I think most would consider Wayland to have a stronger school system than Waltham...)
Well- I see you point. Then look at the total number of students. I believe Waltham is probably a much larger school. But in general- any ratio below 15:1 is pretty good.

I actually work with several Waltham alumni- all great guys that are very successful.

Wealthy communities have the funding to pass budgets etc. Doesn't mean they are better schools. Look at all the factors is the best advice I can give!
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:38 AM
 
3,031 posts, read 8,318,286 times
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Don't forget the parent community. I think it can make or break a school system.
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