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MomTalk.com January 23, 2018:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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How to Research Schools

When Bill Jackson was a middle school teacher in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, families needed to dig deep to get information about potential schools for their children. Parents had to contact public agencies to look for standardized test score results, which involved thumbing through reams of paper. But these days, information on most schools is available with a few clicks of the mouse.

By Elizabeth Wasserman

When Bill Jackson was a middle school teacher in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s, families needed to dig deep to get information about potential schools for their children. Parents had to contact public agencies to look for standardized test score results, which involved thumbing through reams of paper. But these days, thanks to web sites like the one Jackson founded in 1998, Great Schools (greatschools.com), information on most schools is available with a few clicks of the mouse.

"If you're moving, researching schools online is a very practical way to target your neighborhood," Jackson says. "You can't obviously visit schools in person in a very large number of neighborhoods."

Researching schools online is a great option whether you have a son entering kindergarten in the fall, a daughter who is making the leap to high school or you're torn about which educational avenue is best for your family -- public or private. Here are some guidelines for earning an 'A' on your assignment to research quality education online:

Assignment 1: Find schools based on test scores or other qualities Since the U.S. "No Child Left Behind" requirements, public schools -- and teachers -- have been increasingly measured based on student test scores. If it's raw baseline data with a historical perspective that you want for comparing schools, the federal government's National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov) keeps tabs on data such as a school's average score in reading for fourth graders, or mathematics performance of 17-year-olds by highest math course taken, from 1978 to 2004.
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