Author Topic: Do school rankings matter?  (Read 9031 times)

FINate

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Re: Do school rankings matter?
« Reply #50 on: March 06, 2019, 10:26:54 AM »
Last year we moved from an area with the highest ranked schools to an area where the schools are middling. Many of our friends and family were appalled that we'd do such a thing..."but the schools!!!" they'd remark.

More than halfway through the school year and our kids are thriving. The new school is more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. More importantly the overall school culture is, from our point of view, a better fit.

At the previous school it was extremely focused on the PTA, fundraising, and preserving the high school ranking. The rankings were a key selling point for real estate. Don't misunderstand me, the teachers and administration were great, yet it was obvious that the overriding focus was maintaining and improving the aggregate school score. This had a subtle but very real effect on the culture.

At the new school there's more of a focus on building community. They care about the scores and they fundraise, but being in the middle of the pack means there's less pressure and more freedom to focus on other more important things.

IMO, with school rankings the point of diminishing returns comes sooner than most people realize. I would never put my kids in a dysfunctional/failing school, but beyond this what you get out of school is largely what the student and you as a parent put into it.

mm1970

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Re: Do school rankings matter?
« Reply #51 on: March 08, 2019, 01:49:56 PM »
Last year we moved from an area with the highest ranked schools to an area where the schools are middling. Many of our friends and family were appalled that we'd do such a thing..."but the schools!!!" they'd remark.

More than halfway through the school year and our kids are thriving. The new school is more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. More importantly the overall school culture is, from our point of view, a better fit.

At the previous school it was extremely focused on the PTA, fundraising, and preserving the high school ranking. The rankings were a key selling point for real estate. Don't misunderstand me, the teachers and administration were great, yet it was obvious that the overriding focus was maintaining and improving the aggregate school score. This had a subtle but very real effect on the culture.

At the new school there's more of a focus on building community. They care about the scores and they fundraise, but being in the middle of the pack means there's less pressure and more freedom to focus on other more important things.

IMO, with school rankings the point of diminishing returns comes sooner than most people realize. I would never put my kids in a dysfunctional/failing school, but beyond this what you get out of school is largely what the student and you as a parent put into it.
I know the culture of which you speak.  It's the main reason why, when my older kid was selected for GATE, we opted to NOT transfer him to the (very wealthy) school with the dedicated program.

In fact...I'm a little peeved this week and I just need to LET.IT.GO.  There's an article in our local paper / online sources about this great dad at a local school.  He's APPALLED at how little funding there is for schools, so he decided to run for 24 hours straight, past all the 20+ schools in our district.  He invited people to join him to show support, and of course, he was fundraising.  Great idea, right?  If you check his page, and the news articles, he talks about wanting to keep up the sports equipment and facilities.  Basically, wants to create a fund, not just a one-time fundraiser.  Since the guy runs Iron Man triathlons, I can see where he has the interest in sports.

It's not until you dig into the details (and I did because a friend of mine was posting a bunch of stuff on IG during his run)...that you realize... the money... ALL the money goes only to his elementary school.  Yeah.  That's the one.  The one that raises over $500,000 a year.  No wonder they want sports equipment.  Everything else is covered.  But that's not what any of the articles say, "it's for the schools!"  No, it's for the single wealthiest school in the district.

Hey, dude, why don't you donate that $7000 you just raised to the school 3 blocks down the street (no, not ours)?  I guarantee you it's 2x the amount the entire school will raise in a year.  They don't even HAVE a PTA.   I'm just rolling my eyes so hard.  I appreciate that he cares.  I really do.  But man how blind can you be.  A bunch of our schools don't even have a full time PE teacher, much less equipment.

CNM

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Re: Do school rankings matter?
« Reply #52 on: March 08, 2019, 02:11:03 PM »
Along those same lines, @mm1970, the elementary school with the highest rankings in my town also has some major pitfalls.  From what I hear (our kiddo goes to a "B" ranked school, rather than this "A" ranked one), there is a lot of homework and, anecdotally from a parent of a child who used to go there, the parental culture is a bit ... snooty.  Anyway, I am not a fan of homework particularly for young children and that factored heavily in our decision to seek a different school.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 03:03:35 PM by CNM »

mm1970

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Re: Do school rankings matter?
« Reply #53 on: March 08, 2019, 02:22:33 PM »
Along those same lines, @mm1970, the elementary school with the highest rankings in my town also has some major pitfalls.  From what I hear (our kiddo goes to a "B" ranked school, rather than this "A" ranked on), there is a lot of homework and, anecdotally from a parent of a child who used to go there, the parental culture is a bit ... snooty.  Anyway, I am not a fan of homework particularly for young children and that factored heavily in our decision to seek a different school.

The parental culture (snooty), one of the main reasons we stayed away.  I've got friends who are there. I know that they aren't ALL like that.  But it is the main culture.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Do school rankings matter?
« Reply #54 on: March 08, 2019, 08:19:02 PM »
Along those same lines, @mm1970, the elementary school with the highest rankings in my town also has some major pitfalls.  From what I hear (our kiddo goes to a "B" ranked school, rather than this "A" ranked on), there is a lot of homework and, anecdotally from a parent of a child who used to go there, the parental culture is a bit ... snooty.  Anyway, I am not a fan of homework particularly for young children and that factored heavily in our decision to seek a different school.

The parental culture (snooty), one of the main reasons we stayed away.  I've got friends who are there. I know that they aren't ALL like that.  But it is the main culture.

Yes, we're currently in a rich people's preschool - the most expensive in town. Some of my DD's classmates are picked up by parents driving Lexus SUVs who don't work. DD comes home with ideas about the importance of being fashionable, conforming to gender stereotypes, never getting dirty, and the wrongness of gay marriage. But at least they don't reward good behavior with candy or sit them in front of TVs like some of the more working class preschools around me.

StarBright

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Re: Do school rankings matter?
« Reply #55 on: March 13, 2019, 09:37:59 AM »
I have been very involved in the parent teacher association and held positions on the boards while my children where in elementary and middle school, so my perspective is a little different.
My feeling is that spend per student is a better indicator of how good or bad a school district might be. For public schools, what percent of the town's budget is allocated toward the schools and what is the average spent per student.
Student/teacher ratio and school student capacity also reflect on whether the community is growing or contracting, which might influence investment.
Availability of classes for fast or acclerated learners is also an indicator.

Here's a link to a podcast I heard recnetly on this topic.

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/12/666993130/zipcode-destiny-the-persistent-power-of-place-and-education

What a great podcast! Thanks for sharing