New Website May Open Doors for More Educational Choice
Before I spend money on anything, I check out the reviews. Websites like Fandango, Yelp, and Hotels.com ensure that consumers are more informed purchasers of goods and services.
Recently, a new website was launched that can help Missouri parents become better consumers of education. Schoolgrades.org uses an A-F grading scale to evaluate individual schools (as opposed to school districts). The site adjusts for varying academic rigor across state standards and each school’s economic profile.
Prior to this site, Missouri parents had to rely on complicated and hard-to-interpret Annual Progress Report (APR) scores, state standardized test scores, and accreditation statuses, none of which are representative of quality at the national level. Additionally, words like “accredited” and “provisionally accredited” do not intuitively tell parents how a school is doing. A, B, C, D, or F grades provide a better indication.
Within the site, parents can search for a city, place, or individual school.
After looking through a few, let’s just say some Missouri schools did better than others. For example, look at Saline County in West-Central Missouri.
On one hand, Orearville Elementary School received an A. Only 23 percent of schools in the nation earned an A rating. On the other, Bueker Middle, Eastwood Elementary, and Northwest Elementary earned Ds, and Alexander Elementary earned an F.
This highlights the problems of solely looking at APR scores or the state’s accreditation standards. Alexander Elementary is part of the Slater School District, and in 2014 the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded Slater an accredited status. The district earned 66.1 percent of possible APR points, which signifies (by Missouri standards) that the school district is providing students with a quality education. But for students at Alexander Elementary, clearly it isn’t.
I hope that by looking at the wide range of school performances across the state (rural, suburban, and urban) families and voters will see that all is not well. Perhaps it’s time to give students stuck in D and F schools a chance at something better.