Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Score comparison easier on Education Dept.'s site

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

A $40 million Web site now allows parents to compare test scores, enrollment and teacher qualifications at all public schools in Kentucky's 176 districts.

The site is www.schoolresults.org.

The statistics have always been made public on the Kentucky Department of Education's Web site, but this makes it easy to compare school to school and district to district. "While the data itself has been available, it has not been available in this format," said Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit. "The more information parents have, the better we'll be."

This is the first phase of the site, which will include even more information in the second phase - such as money spent per student - due to be finished by the end of the year.

On Monday, Kentucky became the 26th state added to the site, which will feature all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in the next five months. Ohio and Indiana are already part of it.

The data is being compiled by credit-rating company Standard & Poor's and is funded by private foundations and the U.S. Department of Education through the No Child Left Behind Act.

Wilhoit and local school officials like the site, but agree that it's just one tool.

"That Web page offers opportunities to get a quick overview, but I'd encourage parents to look at the school Web pages as well," said Fred Bassett, superintendent of Beechwood schools.

After entering a school or district name on the site, you are given "Quick Facts" on that school or district. You are also given a "yes" or "no" answer to whether or not the district is making "adequate yearly progress" based on the No Child Left Behind Act.

For example, the answer is "no" for the Campbell County School District, but only because students with disabilities did not reach the reading and math proficiency goals. All other goals - 24 of them - were met or not applicable.

That's why parents are being encouraged to use this among other resources for picking a school.

"I believe it's a very useful tool, but it only compares certain variables," said Melissa Pryor, spokeswoman for Campbell County schools. "You can compare data, but you also need to look at other measures like the school's curriculum, comprehensive plan and other ways in which the school may have improved."

While new No Child Left Behind statistics will be released today, that information will not be updated on the Web site until later this year.

How to use the site

• Visit www.schoolresults.org

• Click on Kentucky on the map.

• Enter a school or school district. Quick Facts will become available.

• Click on one of the gray tabs at the top to get more detailed information, such as reading and math proficiency scores, enrollment and teacher qualifications.

• To compare schools or districts, choose Quick Compare in the "Tools" box on the upper right of the page.


E-mail williamcroyle@yahoo.com

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