Are School Ratings Overrated?

circular-headshotBy Caroline Abkar | Red Tree Realty | May 2016

School ratings have ubiquitous online visibility these days and millions of families and home buyers across the United States are looking at the numbers to judge the quality of the schools and neighborhoods they are considering moving into. In fact, one of the first things home buyers wish to find out before choosing a home is the neighborhood school rating. In California, the official state API ranking has been suspended since 2014. So what are people looking at? A magic number between 1 and 10 calculated by and exposed through numerous real estate listing websites – see snapshot example below. Do people understand what is and is not taken into account in that rating?

Ratings Capture

When speaking to families and home buyers, it became apparent to me that these school ratings pulled into Zillow, Trulia, and the like are often used as the sole evaluation parameter for deciding on the fit between a school and a child, and that these ratings are given an extraordinary amount of importance when choosing the home and neighborhood, by families and investors.

As a REALTOR® I felt compelled to research this and share my findings on how ratings are calculated, how they should be interpreted, and more importantly to provide food for thought on how best to decide on the fit between a school and your child(ren) and also on the decision of buying a property in a given neighborhood.

Please read my in-depth article, which shows that ratings are based on averages, neglect to take into account many important aspects such as student growth, subject area strengths, college readiness and academic programs. The article also discusses the factors which affect scores that need to be taken into account when evaluating any school and your child’s fit in that school, how relying on school ratings solely is affecting demographics in neighborhoods and schools, and includes a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask and things to consider, ready to be printed to take with you on your school meetings and visits!

I hope you will be able to see that the rating does not guarantee success and happiness for your child. School choice is too important a decision and investment for your family to be based on a single number. It is important to visit the schools, go through your checklist, think about the intangible qualities such as diversity, broad life experience, respect, tolerance, academic programs, support system, and ultimately weigh your findings against your child’s personality traits, strengths, and likes to determine which type of environment will help him or her thrive at their highest potential.

Download full  article here: Are School Ratings Overrated?


I am always listening.

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Group of schoolchildren with hands raised in classroom