How do you rate a school? Do the scores mean much? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-04-2003, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm considering looking into our 'regular' public school for 1st grade. The school district we're in has had a bad reputation over the years but they are definitly improving. The reputation has been mostly the caliber of kids who go there. Their test scores are above national average but not as good as most districts around here. I am not sure if the scores matter much though. They have a brand new state of the art high school that is just beautiful and have a pretty good sports program. What should I be looking for, do the scores really reveal much about the school? I've heard only good things about the elem. that my dd would go to. How can you tell when a school is a good one. Also, I know it's the parents involvement too of course!
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Old 05-04-2003, 08:59 PM
 
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I think what matters in a school is if you and your child are comfortable there -- with their policies and with the teachers. Test scores only mean the school can produce children who know how to pass tests, which may or may not be what you want for your child.
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Old 05-04-2003, 09:05 PM
 
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I agree that test scores don't mean alot when it comes to comparing schools. Teaching kids how to take tests and actually teaching "to" the test (as opposed to what the children are interrested in) produces higher test scores, but will the kids love learning in the end?
I looked at parent involvement, and how the teachers used their parent volunteers. Also, the feeling of the classroom. Do the children appear engaged, interrested?
My dd is in kindergarten so I'm new at this, too, but we are very pleased with the public school we chose. It is an alternative program (open classroom) within our school district.
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Old 05-05-2003, 01:27 AM
 
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And then there's the correlation between test scores and the average income in a neighborhood...
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Old 05-05-2003, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by teachma
And then there's the correlation between test scores and the average income in a neighborhood...
Can you explain? How do demographics play a role?
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Old 05-07-2003, 09:56 PM
 
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teachma is right. I don't have a reference, although I've seen them (dh is a hs teacher). The average income in a district is a key predictor of how well students do on standardized tests. Get your state's "report card" for the schools in your area and you'll probably see the pattern right off.

I do think test scores are one measure and are a measure I'd look at. But they aren't the be all and end all. I'd look at class size, philosophy, look at what happens with graduates of a district, programs offered, etc.

Obviously, what matters to one person might not matter at all to another. Academics are very important to us, and most other things are a distant second. I don't give a hoot how the district's high school's football team does, but I've actually found parents who care about that kind of stuff.

My dd will also be entering 1st grade next year. I've been very happy with her public school so far. It's a very good district--that's why we live where we do.

They do some stuff about testing which I'd find annoying if I took it seriously. I actually had dd's kindergarten teacher tell me how to get her to analyze books she's read with an eye on how questions are asked on the 3rd grade language arts exam. I burst out laughing and told her that I'm not going to suck the joy out of reading for my kid and that she and I both know that the kids will do fine on said exam without all the extra coaching since she has the right demographic. She basically admitted that was true.
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