Public school ratings are released each year to try to establish a wide database of information for parents to look into. When it comes to choosing a school for your child, the ultimate goal is for the best education one can both afford and the school can provide. There are endless categories that are used to judge each school, but the main ones that usually stand out are test scores, class sizes, enrollment by grade, ethnic/racial groups, economic groups, population distribution by age, household income, and educational expenditures.
Test scores is usually the biggest category that people look at when it comes to choosing a school for your child. The test scores represent the average results that the students in that school end up with on standardized tests or similar since it depends on how the state decides to do their testing procedures. A school with higher tests scores can be assumed to have a better educational, or preparation system in place. Although this may be generally true that those higher scores represent a better education, this is not always the case and it should only be used in addition to other categories. Picking the highest scoring school over any others is a sure way to make a naïve decision.
Class sizes always come up high on the list of what you are looking at with a school. It has been documented that smaller class sizes usually ends up with a much better education. The premise behind this is that the teachers have less work involved with each class so they can spend more time with the students and less time grading papers. There is more one-on-one time and more time in total divided by each student, whether that is more questions answered, or more topics covered. The more time that a teacher can spend with each individual student, the better the learning experience becomes for the students. Keep in mind though that smaller class sizes is detrimental to the schools budget since they have to sacrifice revenue from less attending students to accommodate. It is important for the schools to strike a balance between the cost of the smaller class sizes and the benefits of the intimate setting on the quality of education delivered.
Ethnic or Racial groups data is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it may be imperative that the student be placed in a school that is most fitting for him. Regardless of law and racial equality, research has proven that most people feel comfortable when they have friends of similar interests and who are most like themselves. If a non-Hispanic child is placed in a predominately-Hispanic school, it may be difficult for him to be happy which in turn would lead to lower test scores. This is not always the case, but one should consider this and ensure the school is a best fit. Most schools do not fall into this category though.
Economic groups are a way that many people gauge the education that the school will provide. Data shows that as an increase in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, SAT test scores decrease. It is an inverse relationship and it is a big problem for schools in poorer areas. The most important part of this category is comparing the school to the district or state. If the school were very low compared to the district, it would definitely show that this particular school should have a better education and may be a wise choice.
Lastly, one of the biggest indicators for educational performance would be the educational expenditures. This category shows how much the school spends on each student. It can be said that the greater dollar amount spent per student should indicate a greater education. This is not always the case, but many schools will use these numbers as a great way to publically advertise the school. The most important thing to consider here is comparison to the district and state and then uses the rating to compare with the rest of the categories.