This is the Choice Media #EdReformMinute for Monday, October 22nd.
If you're buying a car, you can go to CarAndDriver.com for reviews and information. If you're choosing a digital camera, it's good to have a CNET.com around. But sometimes even the most strident advocates for school choice have spent little time thinking about how parents might get reliable information about school quality, to better inform their decisions on where to send their kids.
The people at the Philadelphia School Partnership have been focused on this very question, and last week they launched GreatPhillySchools.org, a comparative website on school quality which could become a model for the country.
This is not a novelty site; it's real. It can take an actual street address from anywhere in Philadelphia, and respond with a set of all kinds of schools, district, charter, private, including Catholic schools, all in the same list, ordered simply by distance from the supplied address, along with numerical ratings on academics, safety and likelihood for students from that school to move on to college.
Mark Gleason is with the Philadelphia School Partnership.
"We anticipate controversy with regard to the [school] grades. What we're using these ratings for is to help parents to sort schools, and to help them know what questions to ask and what things to look for as they're going deeper into a school search. These ratings are meant to be tools to help; they're not meant to be final judgements."
In addition to the static snapshot of school quality, there's another benefit to the site. The more it gets people to think of education like a marketplace, the more incentive there will be for poor schools to improve.
"If more families start making choices based on the quality of the school, schools that don't measure up are going to start losing enrollment. And of course no school wants to lose enrollment, so that will create an additional avenue of pressure to raise their game."
The website is GreatPhillySchools.org.
All the day's news in education reform available at ChoiceMedia.TV.
© 2012 Choice Media