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.
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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,
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No Consistency in Charter School Quality, New Study Finds
We examine the new CREDO study, which finds charter schools are not necessarily outperforming traditional public schools on the national level. Also, concern has been raised from this study over significant inconsistencies in charter school quality from school to school.
A new study shows that while charter schools are making significant gains in their performance, they are not exceeding public schools in most areas of the country. In addition, the study found vast variations in the quality of public school throughout the nation, with charters in some states outperforming traditional schools and charters in other states falling sadly behind. As interest in charter schools continues to grow, many are looking at studies like this with interest to determine whether these non-traditional schools can pull their weight in the public school system.
 
Taking a Closer Look at Charter Schools
 
The Washington Post reports that the latest study was conducted by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Researchers analyzed test data for schools in 26 states and the District of Columbia to compare performance of charter schools to that of traditional public schools. To obtain the most accurate comparisons, charter school students were compared directly to a “virtual twin” - a composite of seven students from a nearby school with similar demographics to the charter school student.
 
Like traditional public schools, public charter schools are funded with tax dollars. However, unlike traditional schools, charters do not have to follow the guidelines and curriculum standards required by the local school system. Most charters are not unionized and they are typically run by either parent organizations or more recently, by for-profit companies. Approximately 2.3 million students attend charter schools today, which accounts for approximately 4 percent of
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What is the Connection Between Home Values and School Performance?
Is there a real relationship between expensive houses and better public schools? A new report sheds light on the connection between property value and school quality.
Families often choose the location of their next home by where their children will go to school. As focus on school performance has become more astute thanks to a rising emphasis on test scores and completion rates, home shoppers have become more cautious in their selections as well. Do schools directly affect home values in a neighborhood? The answer may depend on where you are shopping for your next home.
 
Home Values and School Spending
 
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a definite correlation between school expenditures and home values in any given neighborhood. A report titled, “Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending,” found that for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20. These findings indicate that additional school expenditures may benefit everyone in the community, whether or not those residents actually have children in the local public school system.
 
While the findings of this national study are compelling, they do not paint a full picture of the link between school spending and home values. According to the website, some school districts may operate more efficiently, so while expenditures are lower, the quality of education is still high. In addition, the size of the district or proximity of schools from neighboring districts could impact the perception of a specific school’s value, beyond the simple expenditure formula.
 
Researchers that published the report also found that wealthy school districts, where home values may tend to be higher, spend their funding more efficiently.
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U.S. News Releases Latest Rankings of Public Schools
We report on the newest rankings by U.S. News that provide a snapshot into the success of various public schools across the country. Which school tops the list?
U.S. News has released its newest ranking of the top performing public high schools in the country. The rankings are compiled by the news publication annually to help students and parents discover the best high school choices in their states. Rankings are determined by a precise set of criteria that looks at student performance and college readiness. A special look is taken at how well a high school serves its least-advantaged students in these areas.
 
The Method behind the Research
 
To assess thousands of schools throughout the United States, U.S. News teams up with the American Institutes for Research. This DC-based organization is considered a foremost authority on behavioral and social sciences research across the globe. AIR is responsible for the new criteria utilized by U.S. News this year, which were based on the idea that top schools should effectively serve all the students in their population. This explains the specific examination of student performance by disadvantaged students at each school.
 
Researchers perused data from more than 21,000 high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia. States had to provide adequate data and 12-grade enrollment to be included in the rankings. Nebraska did not submit sufficient data on the state’s high schools to be considered. Rankings were completed on a statewide and national basis, to provide the best framework for parents and students who use the rankings to choose the best local high school for their needs.
 
Criteria Used in Rankings
 
According to a report at U.S. News, the first
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Which States Have the Best Public Schools?
We report on the annual survey by Education Week that lists the status of public education in all 50 states.
The numbers are in that indicate how well the education system in the United States is serving its students. Education Week has released its 17th annual ratings for the quality of education in each of the 50 states, awarding letter grades to schools similar to those found on student report cards. Unfortunately, the report card indicated there is still plenty of work to do for most states across the country, with an average national grade of a C+ overall. However, there were a number of bright spots across the survey as well, particularly in the top rated states where education appears to be thriving in many ways.
 
“Quality Counts”
 
The survey, titled, “Quality Counts,” uses six key metrics to grade the quality of education in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The metrics are as follows:
 
       ·      K-12 Achievement
       ·      Assessment and Accountability
       ·      Transitions and Alignment
       ·      Standards
       ·      Students’ Chances for Long-Term Success
       ·      The Teaching Profession
 
Within these six metrics are more than 100 indicators that include such factors as graduation rates, education funding and achievement gaps, according to a report on the survey at the Washington Post. Data was collected from sources like the U.S. Department of Education and the Census Bureau to compile these recent rankings.
 
Interesting Note on Findings
 
When discussions on education quality arise, many of them tend to center on school funding. The general school of thought is that the more money that is pumped into public schools, the higher the education quality
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Evaluating Public Schools

Grading and Ranking Schools