Our mission is to bring equitable school rankings to all families in the US. Today, many parents are making decisions about where to purchase a home based on school rankings and word of mouth. We believe parents should have a more balanced view of school quality when making one of the the biggest investments of their lives.
Schools are an integral part of the surrounding community. In addition to educating the community’s children, they employ residents, connect neighbors, and impact home values.
The public perception of any one school has an enormous impact on the surrounding community. Families that move to a new city are paying careful attention to school quality, and choosing neighborhoods where the school is perceived as high quality.
Today’s system is hurting neighborhoods around great schools that are overlooked by parents due to an artificially low score on the dominant school rankings sites.
We help change public perception about underrated schools so that communities can better position themselves to attract families that will send their children to the neighborhood school.
When parents start searching for real estate, they end up on websites like Zillow, Redfin or Realtor.com, where school rankings for the schools assigned to any one property are published.
Schools that score below a certain threshold are passed over in favor of schools with higher scoress. Generally speaking, our experience has been parents want to see a 7 or better, or they will likely pass over the school (and the associated home).
The result is parents are being steered towards schools in privileged communities with high real estate prices, long commutes, less time with family, and very little diversity.
Socioeconomic Status and Test Scores
The ubiquitous school rankings on real estate search portals favor privileged neighborhoods and discount schools with diversity. This is because parent income is the largest influencer of standardized test scores (not school quality), which is a large part of what constitutes the schools score as displayed on Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc. These scores are actually contributing to the segregation of our nation’s schools, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
SchoolSparrow’s Equitable Ranking Methodology
Our ranking system accounts for parent income in our ranking algorithm. The result is a more balanced view of school quality that identifies schools where the educators are making the difference, not simply benefiting from high achieving students from privileged backgrounds.
Our rankings elevate diverse schools to the forefront, and shift focus away from family income.
Most parents today research schools through the school rankings on real estate search portals, and through word of mouth. Word of mouth is an echo chamber. Your circle of friends/colleagues all know of the same 4 or 5 “good” schools, and those schools usually mirror the school rankings. Confirmation bias sets when a parent hears the same schools repeatedly from different sources, and ultimately a school is selected without a full view of the real picture.
Imagine two different schools, each with the exact same test scores and the exact same school rating, let’s say its a 7/10. The 7 is actually meaningless without the context of parent income, which is not taken into account in current school rankings. If one school is located in Kenilworth, IL (a very high income suburb of Chicago), then a 7 is not really impressive, it should be higher. But if the other school is located in Pilsen (a gentrifying neighborhood in Chicago), then wow, a 7 is really impressive.
Our system gives a higher score to the Pilsen school, and a lower score to the Kenilworth school.
"SchoolSparrow changed the way we were thinking about schools. We figured we'd have to live in the suburbs to get a good school, but after visiting SchoolSparrow, we found a great school in the city."- D. Frost, SchoolSparrow User
"Thanks to your service, I have an extra hour a day with my kids."- J. Perry, SchoolSparrow User
"It's about time someone published school rankings where diversity takes the front seat instead of test data."- J. Washington, SchoolSparrow User
We hope to spread awareness to parents nationwide about the real driver of most school rankings (parent income), and deliver an alternative ranking system that highlights hidden gem schools that rank very high on our system, but low on the reigning school rankings out there today.
In the end, using our system, people will be able to live in more affordable communities, closer to work, and with more time to spend with their families. If a working parent can spend an extra hour a day with their children, and that time is spent wisely, this overcomes the incremental difference between any two schools.
How You Can Help
Sign up for our mailing list for specific actions you can take to help spread the word. We have a plan to disseminate our message so that parents can make school selection decisions with a more balanced view of school quality. We hope you will be a part of it.