As parents, we all want what is best for our kids. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a parent say otherwise. As kids head back to school, education is at the forefront of all of our minds. And even though I don’t have a child in elementary school yet, the status of the school district that my son will attend is very important to me. I will be one of those annoying parents with forty-five questions.
The big question is how do you assess the school districts in your area? Doing online searches can be somewhat helpful, or talking to neighbors and getting first hand information from other parents. As is the case in many circumstances, going online can be a double-edged sword. In my experience, it is either information overload or countless online comments written by people you don’t know, many of them negative. I don’t find it helpful and when I’m done “researching,” I feel more lost than when I started. I mean, what am I really looking for?
So, when I was contacted by the local Fox news station to try out a new website specifically for parents wanting to compare and contrast different school districts, I was excited. The website was developed by Dan Goldhaber at the UW Center for Education and Data Research (CEDR). The site is called WADE, which stands for the Washington Achievement Data Explorer. It is an awesome tool that enables you to compare different districts using a multitude of variables, such as demographics, reading and math scores, and teacher/student ratios. It is easy to use and spans several years so that you can see the trends that each district is experiencing. This specific site is for the state of Washington, but I’m hoping that other states follow suit, as this information should be accessible to all parents.
In speaking with Brian Callanan at Fox News, I stressed the fact that parents cannot rely on test scores alone to guide their school choice for their children. The school experience is much more than percentages and numbers. The feeling you get when you walk into a classroom or speak with a teacher will give you the missing piece of the puzzle and allow you to make an informed decision.
How did you navigate the school jungle? What do you love (or dislike) about your child’s educational experience?