Chicago's School + Home Search Resource

How do you rank schools?

We rank schools by taking the average of the ISAT and CPS Performance Scores for the school. The ISAT score is the school's % of students in grades 3-8 that meet or exceed state standards on the Illinois State Achievement Test. The CPS performance score is a score between 0 and 100% and it is based on the ISAT score, but also accounts for trending, so if scores are improving then the CPS performance score will be higher. Please recognize that test scores are not everything! Nothing is better than visiting a school, talking with teachers and other parents, and making a decision based on all the facts. Test scores are just one factor, and a small one at that, but they do provide an easy way to rank schools.

Are Chicago Public Schools good enough?

This question gets an emphatic "Yes!" from SchoolSparrow, but it is obviously a personal choice. Chicago families are increasingly sending their children to Chicago Public Schools because of a recent significant increase in the quality of education at many schools within CPS. The evidence can be seen in the test scores, property values, and enrollment numbers at specific schools. The book 'How to Walk To School' is a true story about how one parent and the principal together turned around a failing school, and this story has been repeated at several schools around Chicago.

Where does the property data come from?

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.

How do you know the properties are in the right school boundaries?

The short answer is we don't know for sure. SchoolSparrow has all the school boundaries geo-coded, and with a snappy little point-in-polygon algorithm, we were able to definitively assign geo-coded points into the correct polygons. The points correspond to specific property addresses. 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, and please let us know if you see an error, we would very much appreciate it.

Why don't more brokerages have this data?

We tried selling our point in polygon algorithm and assignment data for $100 per month to the large Chicago brokerages. The founder of SchoolSparrow, Tom Brown, spoke with all the big name brokerages, and explained how this data could be used to allow users to search by school boundary, and they were all initially interested, but in the end they all said no with the exception of one. The reasons varied from the generic 'this is not in line with our goals right now', to comments like 'only 10% of our clients care about school boundaries'.

What if I don't care about the school district?

Our philosophy is that everyone should at least be informed about the schools assigned to a property, because although it might not be important to you right now, it could be extremely important to buyers when you are trying to sell in a few years. In addition, there is upside potential if you were to purchase in a school boundary where the school is known to be in the early stages of a turn-around.