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:
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

. . .read more
Updated February 01, 2015 |
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
. . .read more
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
. . .read more
Updated March 30, 2015 |
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,
. . .read more
Updated February 17, 2016 |
New Poll Shows What Parents Think of Current State of Public Schools
We report on the latest poll by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa that surveyed individuals nationwide to discover their views on the current state of public schools.
Gallup Poll Results
A new PDK/Gallup Poll offers some interesting statistics on how parents view the current state of public schools. While standardized testing did make its way into the poll, more parents were worried about school funding than how to assess school and student performance. The majority of parents also thought their neighborhood school was doing a pretty good job, although they didn’t rank public schools as well on a national level. Read on to learn more about how parents see the condition of public education today.
 
About the Poll
 
The poll is a collaborative effort between Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup. The poll is conducted annually, and is considered one of the best-known research instruments today. This year, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 Americans over the age of 18, asking both questions from previous years and questions new to this year’s survey. Because it is performed annually, researchers are able to track changing views of the education system, as well as evaluate new ideas and processes in public education.
 
The Standardized Test Question
 
With No Child Left Behind and Common Core Standards still floating around Washington, the big question remains whether standardized testing is proving its worth in the education realm. According to this recent poll, parents don’t find standardized testing very valuable for their children. Less than one-quarter of those polled thought tests had improved the quality of education in public schools. Three-quarters believed testing had made no difference or even hurt the education environment for students.
 
Standardized testing came in fifth
. . .read more
View Pages:<<Prev  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Next>>
Evaluating Public Schools

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.

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.

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.