Frequently Asked Questions

How does SchoolSparrow work?
We work very closely with local public school officials to ensure our school boundary data is as accurate as possible. Our process is different from other real estate sites such as Trulia or Zillow who license boundary data from third parties and openly recognize that their data is not updated frequently and could be inaccurate. While we still strongly recommend that all potential home buyers (and renters) contact their local school systems to confirm that their address is within the desired boundaries, we work directly with school officials to ensure our data is as accurate as possible.
Why can’t you guarantee a property is within a specific school district with 100% certainty?
The reality is that no one can. To get a little technical - SchoolSparrow has all the school boundaries geo-coded, and with a snappy little algorithm, we were able to definitively assign individual properties into the correct boundaries. It is very, very accurate - but if the property gets geo-coded by our friends at Google incorrectly, then the data can be incorrect. So, always (always !) double check the school boundary before purchasing a property. We recommend SchoolSparrow clients confirm a property’s designated school(s) using the CPS’s tool: cps.edu/ScriptLibrary/Map-SchoolLocator2015/index.html . Of course if you do notice an error on the site, we would very much appreciate it if you’d let us know!
How do you rank schools?
Just as we do regarding school boundary data, we work closely with local school districts to get as much school-level data as possible. While the data we collect will inherently different across cities, we try and provide as much insight into test scores, class size, and school level as possible. While we are constantly increasing the amount of data and information we’re able to provide, our default “rankings” are currently done by state test scores.
Are test scores all that matter when evaluating a school?
Definitely not. At SchoolSparrow, we recognize that there are number of flaws by solely relying on state test scores to evaluate a city’s schools. Accordingly, we are working diligently to develop a scoring formula to incorporate additional variables in an effort to provide a more holistic view of a school’s offering. It’s also true that every child and family is different and as such, what’s most important to one family may be very different from that of another. To that end, we’re also working to provide parents the ability to create their own weighting so that they can assign values to the variables that they value most. So stay tuned!
Does buying a house within a school boundary guarantee that my child will be able to attend that school?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is like that of many other questions in this area – it depends. While living within the boundaries of the desired school’s boundaries should ensure your child can attend the school, the reality is that in certain cities this isn’t always the case. In many cities the supply and demand for quality schools is such that certain schools cannot meet house all of the children living within their districts. In situations like this, it’s common for parents to have to put their names on lengthy waitlists. We recommend that every parent contact their local school district to ensure they know with 100% certainty the reality of their situation before making a home purchasing decision.
Where does SchoolSparrow source the property data?
Property data comes from the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is a database of every property that is listed by a real estate agent in Chicagoland. The MLS holds the vast majority of for-sale properties that are available on the market, but only a fraction of the available for-rent properties that are on the market. The reason is that more people are more willing to rent by owner than sell by owner.
I don’t have kids so should I really care about school district?
Even if you don’t have (or plan to have) children, the reality is that school district quality is a key driver of buyer demand (and thus property value). For those parents who would like to send their children to Magnet or Charter schools, you’re still going to want to try and get into a quality district if possible as spots in those schools are far but guaranteed. The application process requires that your children not only qualify academically, you also have to enter (and succeed) via a complex lottery process. Even if your children manage to get in, the future of these schools is far from secure as school systems across the country are facing severe budget deficits and will be forced to make significant cuts (including school closures) which are often driven by politics rather than performance. Given the high variability in the quality of public schools in US cities, you don’t want to leave your kids’ education to chance.
Why can’t I view the address of a property I’m interested in?
In order to view the address of a specific property and view additional details and images, we ask visitors to create an account so that we can learn more about your search process and desired criteria. Once you’ve created an account users are able to view the addresses of the properties they’re interested in, save searches, establish their favorite schools, and connect with one of SchoolSparrow’s Partner Agents so that you’re updated if / when a home that meets your criteria - within your desired school(s) district(s) – comes on the market. For your account to remain active, we require that users confirm their emails and establish a relationship with one of SchoolSparrow’s partner agents.
What exactly is a school’s ‘SQRP Level’?
The School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) is Chicago Public School District's policy for measuring annual school performance. At the end of the each school year, schools will receive a School Quality Rating and an Accountability Status. The purpose of the SQRP is to:

1. Communicate to parents and community members about the academic success of individual schools and the district as a whole.
2. Recognize high achieving and high growth schools and identifying best practices.
3. Provide a framework for goal-setting for schools.
4. Identify schools in need of targeted or intensive support and
5. Guide the Board's decision-making processes around school actions and turnarounds.

The SQRP is a five-tiered performance system based on a broad range of indicators of success, including, but not limited to, student test score performance, student academic growth, closing of achievement gaps, school culture and climate, attendance, graduation, and preparation for post-graduation success. See the CPS official website for additional details.