The 3 Best Sites to Research Schools
Raised by parents who taught high school, I was raised in the academic world.
My dad taught English and was sure to have my sister and I quoting Shakespeare at a young age. He is a master of empathy, able to connect with students who might otherwise drop out of school at their first opportunity.
My mom spearheaded a program that allowed pregnant teens to remain in school during and after their pregnancy. She balanced an all-subject curriculum with imparting life skills imperative for young mothers.
They both received high praise for the impact they had in the classroom. They both spent the majority of their careers at a high school that many considered inferior to neighboring ones. Stellar teachers hidden at an "inferior" school? I bring this up to set the table for today's discussion: school ratings.
The high school my parents taught at was low on the local totem pole. It wasn't uncommon for families to move to adjacent towns just to get their kids into a different high school.
This phenomenon isn't confined to my home town, though. It is prevalent in every county and every state. Schools are heavily influential in how people gauge desirability of neighborhoods.
Being in real estate, I happen to earn a living gauging the desirability of neighborhoods...so you could see how school ratings might be something I should know about. Lucky for you, I do!
There's an adage in real estate that agents should be "the source of the source". We can get ourselves into hot water when we profess to be the expert on things. Rather than overstepping my bounds, I recommend sources for clients. In the case of school ratings, here are my go to sources (in no particular order):
GreatSchools.org - This nonprofit is focused on providing school ratings and information to help parents find the best school for their child. Their site displays a school's contact info, demographics, test scores, and more.
StartClass.com - A subsidiary of Graphiq (formerly FindTheBest) based in Santa Barbara, Start Class mines data from the internet and provides it to users in a rich, graphic-oriented format. It contains some of the same information as other school rating sites, but in an easily-digestible medium.
Remember how I said both of my parents were well respected despite being at a lesser high school? Take that as a warning that school ratings don't tell the whole story. Even stellar schools can feature teachers that are sub-par or aren't a good fit for your child.
It's important to conduct your own research on schools. Think about what strengths and weaknesses your child has. Think about their personality and interests. Think about the fit between school and child. The best school for one child might not be the best school for another child.
Don't blindly accept group think. The recipe for finding the right school? Talk to school personnel, supplement with online research, and sprinkle parent reviews on top.
Devin Wong // Village Properties // firstname.lastname@example.org // (805) 451-6157