On Friday, Chicago Public Schools released a lot of new data. While CPS's continued enrollment slide made the biggest headlines (enrollment is linked to how much funding each district receives), the new school ratings are likely more important to parents, especially those in the thick of school search. Find out where your school—or the schools you're considering for your child next year—ranks here.
[Related: Want to make your community better? Consider your neighborhood school]
My son's school's rating dropped from a 1+ to a 1. That's disappointing, for sure, but this article about what these ratings really mean helped me understand the data that drives these ratings, and why perhaps you shouldn't put too much stock into them.
Possibly the most controversial data point in these ratings is attendance, which is weighted more than all other factors. A "perfect" score is 96% attendance. Attendance is no doubt important, but if a school slips below that 96% attendance rate, its rating takes a huge hit.
"For example, last year Saucedo Scholastic Academy just barely received a Level 2+ rating, with 2.9 points," the article states. "Students at Saucedo had a 95.9% attendance rate. Had students been sick just a few days less, their attendance would have increased to 96.0%, and they would have become a Level 1 school."
[Related: The little-known strategy of getting into Chicago schools]
So if you're researching schools for your child, by all means take these school ratings into account. But my advice is also to consider the many other aspects that make a school successful, such as a committed principal and a highly involved parent group. Luckily, my son's school has both.
Check out NPN's school search tools to make your school search easier! Our School and Daycare Directory compiles up-to-date stats on every school in the city. And look for upcoming NPN School Choice events such as CPS 101.