Evaluating Public Schools

This section provides tools to aid in finding the best public school option for your child. Compare private and public schools, explore school zoning issues, and delve into the public school grading and ranking system. Find information on the safest schools and what they are doing right.
View the most popular articles in Evaluating Public Schools:
Published August 05, 2016 |
What are the Benefits of Magnet Schools?
Could a magnet school be the right choice for your child? Take the time to learn what they are and what educational benefits they offer.

The quality of your child’s education will have a significant impact on the rest of his life. The education he receives while he is young will prepare him for higher education and, eventually, a career. The challenge is, however, that there are many different types of schools to choose from. If you want your child to receive the best education available to him, consider enrolling him in a magnet school.

What is a Magnet School?

A magnet school is a type of public school that, while still part of the local public school system, has a particular curricular focus. In many ways, magnet schools are just another type of school but there are some key features which set these schools apart. In the United States, magnet schools are developed around a core set of five principles according to the Magnet Schools of America organization. These five pillars include the following things:

  • Diversity – Part of what sets magnet schools apart from other schools is the focus on diversity which gives students a global educational experience. Through recruitment and lottery systems, magnet schools strive to develop a student body that is reflective of the surrounding community.
  • Innovative Curriculum and Professional Development – Each magnet school has a particular theme and the curriculum is relevant to that theme, designed to prepare students for higher education and eventual career success.
  • Academic Excellence – Magnet schools are committed to multi-dimensional instruction which is focused on the needs of the students. Various assessment strategies are used to monitor student
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Updated May 17, 2016 |
Pros and Cons of Public versus Private Elementary Schools
The elementary school you choose for your child could impact his academic success for life - learn more about choosing between public and private elementary schools.

When your child reaches school age you have a lot of important decisions to make. The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to send your child to a private or a public elementary school. Each of these options comes with its own pros and cons but unless you do your research you may not understand fully what they are.

Some children will thrive in any kind of educational environment while other students may need special attention or a certain academic structure. Only you know what your child’s needs are, so it is up to you to do the research and to choose the best option for your child. In this article you will receive an overview of private and public elementary schools as well as the pros and cons of each so you can make an educated decision.

The Difference Between Public and Private

Even if your child attended preschool, elementary school is likely to be his first true educational experience. It is very important that you choose the right school for your child at this age because it will shape his academic career for the future. The main decision you need to make is between private and public elementary schools. Even if you choose to send your child to public school in the future, choosing a private school for elementary might be a good choice.

A private elementary school may also be known as an independent school because it is not administered by any state, local, or national

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Updated October 14, 2016 |
Public or Private? Which School is Best for Your Child?
Should your child attend a public or private school? A tough question indeed! Public and private schools have many benefits for children and their families, yet they both have drawbacks as well. In this article, learn about the pros and cons of each to help make your decision to go public or private an easier one.
The age-old question of where to send your child to school, if you’re fortunate enough to have a choice, is one that has been debated for ages. Do you go the private school route to give your child smaller class sizes, more rigorous learning experiences, and a better shot at an upper tier college? Or do you opt for the public school option, where your child will experience more diversity among their classmates and have more opportunities for exploring academic and extracurricular activities? No doubt, private schools and public schools have their advantages and disadvantages, which help create a vastly different school experience for your child.
 
The School Experience
 
Obviously there are sharp contrasts in the type of experience your child will have at a public or private school. In private school, your child will likely be in classes with fewer students, with a teacher that is more likely to report enjoying his or her job, and at a school that is more likely to have modern resources, including supplies and textbooks that are relatively new, if not brand new. The curriculum is driven at the school level, with teachers having more say regarding what is taught and how they teach it. Private school students also engage in more physical activities and eat healthier school meals than do public school students.
Conversely, public school students are more likely to attend a school that is socially, racially, and economically diverse. Public school students
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Updated March 03, 2015
Why You Need to Research School Districts When Buying a Home
Whether you have children or not, researching school districts is a crucial step when buying a new home.
If you’re in the market for a new home you better be researching local school districts – it could mean all the difference for your family, whether you have children or not.
 
When people search for a new home, there are many factors that weigh in on their decision: price, amenities, neighborhood, the square footage, rent or own, new or old, and much more. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to add another important aspect of home buying to this research list- school districts. Even if you don’t have, or never plan to have school-age children, school districts can still have quite an impact on your home value and living area.
 
Here are four of the main reasons why the quality of school districts is something that you need to keep in mind when you buy your next home.
Why Research School Districts
1. A Good School District = A Good Neighborhood
 
All other things constant, a good school district tends to equal a good neighborhood. And when it comes to real estate, the name of the game is location, location, location. Great location can mean safer neighborhoods, abundance of places to eat, ease of access to transportation, proximity to urban, beach or vacation areas, and amenities like public parks and services.
 
If you do have kids, a good location and good neighborhood are even more important. Just ask John Wetmore, “walking” safety expert and Producer of “Perils for Pedestrians.” “Parents need to consider how their children will
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Updated May 30, 2016 |
Public School Review Diversity Report: Which States Have the Most Diverse Public Schools?
Which states have the most diverse public schools? We analyze our data to find how much diversity truly exists on public school campuses. Learn about the varying levels of school diversity in regions around the nation, as well as the benefits derived from ethnic diversity in schools.
American public schools have made tremendous progress since the Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. Schools throughout the nation are more diverse than ever before as a result of desegregation, immigration of people to this country, and emigration of citizens from one region of the nation to another. Sixty years after the Supreme Court’s decision, schools in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and other southern states where segregation was once so prominent have shown great gains in diversity.
 
But which states have the most diverse public school campuses? We collected data and analyzed the numbers to develop an original list illustrating how much diversity truly exists in each state’s public schools. 
 
Diversity Scores of Public Schools
 
To equally compare the diversity of public schools in our country, we mined student population data and calculated diversity scores at the school, town, county and state levels. 
 
While “diversity” commonly refers to the presence of minorities, we were interested in understanding the presence of more than one ethnic group on campus. For example, while the Los Angeles Unified School District has many schools that have 90% or more Hispanic students on campus, this would be considered a homogenous school, rather than a diverse one.  
 
As such, our formula determines the likelihood that any two students are from different ethnic groups.  Scores closer to 1 indicate greater diversity, while scores closer to 0 indicate lesser diversity.  
 
When examining the various levels of scoring, school-level scores are more or less indicative of the town,
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Recent Articles
November 09, 2016
Starting school can be a scary and overwhelming situation for any child, but children with autism experience unique challenges. Keep reading to learn what those challenges may be and to receive some tips for dealing with them appropriately.
November 09, 2016
For some students, attending college immediately after high school is not the right choice. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of this decision and to learn about some alternative options.
November 08, 2016
Homework has become deeply ingrained in the U.S. educational system, but how much homework is too much and how can you create a healthy environment for your child to do schoolwork at home?
Evaluating Public Schools

School Zoning

Learn more about zoning rules, how they impact schools and your child. This section offers information on the history of school zones, what they are, and how they work. Get information on who decides school boundaries and the impact those decisions have on the community.

Getting Started

An overview of school designations, best practices for evaluating your options, and tips on choosing the best school for your child. Learn about Blue Ribbon, Vocational and Special Education schools. Get tips on finding the right school in a new neighborhood, city or state.

Grading and Ranking Schools

Explore the public school grading/ranking system, how it works and what it means. Get latest national rankings and read what critics of school grading have to say. Take a look at the nation’s top performing schools as ranked by U.S. News and Newsweek.

Public School Safety

A comprehensive look at the safety of US public schools. Learn what schools are doing to combat gangs and drugs, prepare for natural disasters, and protect your children from predators. From web cameras to armed guards, see what tools public schools are employing to keep kids safe.

Public vs. Private Schools

A comparison of public and private schools, the pros and cons of each, and a look at the cost of getting a stellar education at both. Take a look at some of the most expensive schools, notable public school alumni, and learn more about “private” public schools.