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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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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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
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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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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 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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Evaluating Public Schools

Grading and Ranking Schools