How Does Your Kid's School Rank?

Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason writes that interested parties can now find out how their school stacks up against other schools using the Education Nation Scorecard. “In fact, most people think their neighborhood public school is pretty OK, or even good,” writes Mangu-Ward. “That’s because they don’t know better.” Mangu-Ward hopes the data will result in a more engaged, knowledgeable parent/student body. Readers, what do you think? Will more data give parents and students the ammunition to help improve schools – or just to complain more? (HT: Megan McArdle) [%comments]

Mike B

Whomever designed the info-graphics on that page need to to back to school themselves. It takes time to learn how to use it and they don't do a good job of presenting the information in an easily understandable format.


I don't know about other parents, but being a new(er) parent with a 1 year old and 2 1/2 year old, I really appreciate these types of resources as we try to plan where we want to move and where we want our kids to go to school.

Thanks for the heads up on this one.


Personally, if my kids school would give me a ranking of how they are compared to others schools, it wouldnt make me complain more. I mean, I havent been in that situation but I think that what I would reason is to try to make it a better place. Organize a comittee of parents, set out what the schools weaknesses are, and work on them. I think every parent, or most parents have their childrens best interest first. If this is the case, they would want them to have the best education they have. Schools giving out the rankings and the scoreboard of the school will make parents get mor einvolved, and it will help the school improve. Either that or students just move to a better school they are willing and able to pay for and attend.

Gerard Iannelli

Where are the scores for the private and CHARTER schools? Shouldn't they be required to put their students through the same torture as the public school students, or are they actually teaching subject matter, like public schools did prior to No Child Left Behind.


Having a comparison of different schools will be able to have a positive effect on all schools. Though the competition will increase amongst the different schools, parents, teachers, and other administrators will be more willing to improve their education in order to be more widely recognized.

In order to increase the quantity demanded for certain schools (students applying), the institutions will raise their quantity supplied by providing higher quality teachers and educational instruments/tools.

This competition will offer the buyers (parents/guardians) with a greater variety of choices when selecting the school depending on the ranking.


This data shows which schools/school districts/states score well on specific tests, but does it necessarily follow that the best teachers are in those places? How much of the scores can fairly be attributed to the quality of the teachers?

Paul Clapham

If it works like it does here in Vancouver, where rankings like these have been publicized for several years, you'll find that the ranking of the school is highly correlated with the income of the parents. (Although the people who do the rankings are careful not to point that out.)


I think I agree that the data presentation can use some work. I checked some schools in NJ that I know from other sources to be very good, and they didn't 'pop' as superior schools. I think I want percent with better/worse rates (state wide or in ten mile radius) and perhaps some sort of combined score since maybe fourth grade math is bad but everything else is great.
Further I wonder if something is wrong with HS graduation rates, according to the site 96% of HS students in NJ graduate(?!?) I meant that would be great, but hardly seems possible

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

Face it, we do not rank the quality of education of an adult acquaintance by the prestige of their elementary, junior high or high school. You are marked by your alma mater or college, grad school or even post grad instituitons.

Who remembers their 6th grade school? is buried behind paparazzi stories of Lady Gaga, Elvis and the lyrics to the Macarena.

The newest trend in NYC due to Kindergarten Research, is trying to get into the best ELITE KINDERGARTENS. It can be more competitive and subject to wooing pressures as entering Harvard grad school.

Speak to a kid for 5 minutes and you will know his personality and a sense of his knowledge, curiosity and IQ. Our kids are growing up scared of all adult strangers and this is not conducive to curiosty, openess and overall intellectual development. Flash: Not every adult stranger is a perverted vicious homicidal murderer. In fact adults form our community that kids must learn to engage and interact with.

Unfortunately our kids are moles and seak the warmth of electronic gadgets and not simple conversation, community and engaging friendships.



I do believe that if i had access to a rank like this, I would be glad to see if my kid's school was a nice place to study at, and if it wasn't, I'd do my best to improve it.

Every parent wants his kids to get the best education they can have, there's no way to contest this.

The idea is great and should be applied. Let's make our education even better everyday. After all it's the only way we can be sure that our children will have a sucessfull career.


Maybe the government should start ranking us as parents based on how well we monitor and enforce our children's education. Parents who are doing a good job at this will know well in advance of published school rankings whether their child is receiving a good education from that school. The real questions should be not how are schools being ranked but how are we helping our children learn, how are we getting involved in our children's schools, and what are we doing to ensure that the schools in our neighborhoods are good enough to educate our children.

Kati from Finland

Although I am not very familiar with the educational system in the US, this only deepens my perception that education, as the traditional US American ideology in general, is extremely competitive. It's a good idea obviously to monitor the level of teaching etc. in schools, but publishing rankings seems harsh. This would probably only polarise the learning community so, that the best learners (who tend to come from well-off families where education is appreciated and encouraged) would transfer to better schools, leaving the poor and mediocre students at the other end of the scale.

Children and teenagers should be allowed to explore different opportunities in life and feed their curiosity while in school. Ranking schools emphasizes competition and successfulness, placing a lot of pressure on kids, who should be allowed to enjoy learning and being at school without extreme stress about being in the best school, having the most successful friends and so forth.

Instead of inducing competition between schools, could the educational community join their efforts and try to help the weaker links without alienating them publicly from the rest?



In the Australian experience, publishing rnakings is counter-productive. In some cases the lowest ranked schools have had half their kids leave.


If I put myself in the shoes of a mother, and my son is at the neighborhood school I would certainly like to know how that school stacks up compared to other schools. I believe in the best education possible for my son, and for this I wish for them to be in the best school possible. So, my reaction wouldn't be to complain more to the school if it is ranked bellow other schools, but to try to help it by investing more to make it better.

But there may be other responses to this. Some parents might blame the school for being ranked bellow other schools and therefore complain and demand more technology or better teachers. But, in order to accomplish this, parents need to contribute to the school as well. So, in return of their complaints they will have to contribute (usually money) to make the school better.

So, in my opinion this may increase complaints, but it will definitely increase parents' involvement in making the schools better for their children.



"Mangu-Ward hopes the data will result in a more engaged, knowledgeable parent/student body. "

OK, I can support that. What other positives could this national database bring about?

Well, assuming that a more engaged parent body means more contact with school officials, this could result in increased efforts on behalf of parents to push states for more funding in their district, an all around benefit that could atleast provide for better teachers, or what have you.

Or not.
Considering the belt-tightening state governments are undergoing, the ability to direct cash to poorer/lower performing districts would probably be done at the expense of other, more well off parts.

Another positive would be the ability of parents to make more informed decisions about where their children attend school. This could again have unintended consequences, as many parents may leave the district for better performing schools, thus leaving poorer mediocre districts to rot. As they say though, knowledge is power.



Hmm... Kati from Finland has made me realize something here. We as Americans tend to look only at capitalist solutions to problems. Standardized testing is the equivalent of looking at a company's bottom line. School choice is obviously capitalist. My school district has apparently started selling advertising space targeting parents. The problem with these approaches is that universal education, by its very nature is a socialist institution. Unfortunately, "socialism" might as well be banned by the FCC, the way people use it. However, a well educated populace is VITAL to a healthy democracy, so, despite it's socialist nature, I would argue that public education is more important to democracy than is the free market.

If we can get over thinking of all things socialist as being of the devil, and embrace the socialist nature of public education, it might lead to improvements which are more harmonious with what our democracy needs from public education.


Jack Steadman

The graduation rates are too high. A 9-12 high school in my area loses more than half its students between 9th and 12th grade. A typical 9th grade class will have an enrollment of 350 students. Four years later about 140 students graduate. This school lists a graduation rate of 84%. Is the rate shown the percent of 12-graders who graduate?


In ontario, you can look at standardized test scores for each public school. they've had this for a while now.
I have also seen these data compared with avg household income in the paper and as #7 mentions, they are highly correlated.


Checked out my city. You are not going to believe this. The poorer sections of town features school kids producing lower grades and the richer part of town better grades. Are we seeing school quality or the geographic placement of kids genetically predisposed to perform well?

For the junior highs, it'd be nice to know what the composite scores of their kids were in the fourth grade. Progression is more interesting than single year results.

Bert Sperling

Kudos to all the readers who have noticed the messy little secret that gets covered up - the 'best-perfoming' schools are the ones where the students come from well-educated and well-to-do families.
Nature vs. nurture, causation vs. correlation - you be the judge, but the fact stubbonly remains.
One can look at the sociodemographic profile of a school's neighborhood to gain some insight, but what about schools which attract students from all over town? One of the best indictors of student performance is the Percent of Students Eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunches, All public schools are required to provide this data to the federal government, and it's a good measure of the students' family economic status. Sorry, private schools do not report this metric.
And forget about making any sense from a school's graduation rate. It is notoriously meaningless. In fact, there have been excellent articles recently which document the inaccuracies and the problems which revolve around the statistic.
Graduation rate is very difficult to calculate, and to be accurate, needs to track each student through high school in a longitudinal study. Then there is the issue of GEDs, when they are earned, and if they should count as a successful graduation. Accordingly, the graduation rate is very susceptable to interpretation and manipulation.
Finally, there is no way (as yet) to accurately compare schools between states. Each state has their own tests and standards, so a 90 for one school may be equivalent to a 75 in a different state.