Citizens Can Go Online to Find School Info.

Citizens Can Go Online to Find School Info.

As children in Hagerstown embark on another school year, this is as good a time as ever for citizens to ask themselves whether they know as much as they think they know about their kids' schools.
How are students performing in reading and math? How do those proficiency rates compare to other schools in the state? How much is the district spending per student compared to districts with similar demographics? How about compared to the state average? And how does the class size of schools in the area stack up against those of other schools around the state?
They are all-important questions because their answers can help identify local educational challenges, and produce praise for students and teachers when outstanding results are uncovered.
The good news is that a lot of school data is readily available online. Parents can turn to the state department of education website, for example, to find proficiency rates on standardized tests. Those interested in even more robust data and the ability to compare a school or school district's performance with other schools or compare performance over time can turn to the independent SchoolMatters.com.
The free site can provide users with a wide array of data and analysis provided by Standard & Poor's, the company well known for its impartial bond ratings, market indices and equity research.
Want to know what your school district spends per student, what that money is spent on or how much new money is being allocated to the classroom compared to state and county averages? A few clicks on the site will tell you. The site also reveals student proficiency levels, demographic and classroom profile data. How about a measure of "return" on the money spent to achieve a given level of student performance? Standard & Poor's developed two unique indicators, the Return and Spending Index (RoSI) and the Performance Cost Index (PCI), to tell users.
Moreover, easy to use tools facilitate comparisons between local schools and those in other parts of the state.
Certainly all of this data don't tell parents everything that is happening inside a classroom. Only by visiting a school, talking with teachers and sounding out other parents can one get a full sense of a school's learning environment. However, examining objective sources of data can provide parents and community members with the knowledge base necessary to make better-informed decisions about their schools.
Schoolmatters was developed by the National Education Data Partnership, a collaboration among the Council of Chief State School Officers, Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services and the CELT Corp. The partnership is funded by The Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.