A GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL HAS: A) Terrific Test Scores B) Low Student-Teacher Ratio C)Involved Parents D)All of the Above
And Here Are Twelve Schools That Prove It.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHETHER YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD school is up to par? By visiting the school, talking to teachers and parents, using your own eyes and ears to spot triumphs and trouble spots. But inevitably, there is hard data that will help you determine whether your school is right for your child. Mostly, the numbers involve testing-and tests can be misleading, unfair, and difficult to interpret. Ask your principal what the numbers mean-then go on from there.
Area school districts test their students’ achievement by using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the California Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). Most districts test yearly; some alternate years. The tests are graded against a national norm; therefore, the number on the left is a comparison of how the class did against classes nationwide. An average score of 50 percent means that students in that class performed better than half the students taking the test and not as well as the top half. A score of 90 indicates that students performed better than 90 porcent of students taking the test nationwide. (In some cases, the school district reports the median, not average, test scores. This tends to change the comparison slightly.)
The number on the right is the grade equivalent. If, for example, it says that children in the first grade taking the test scored 2.2 on the reading portion of the test, they were reading at the level of children in the second month of the second grade. Educators warn, however, not to take the grade equivalencies too literally. The child scoring 2.2 is handling material that is usually handled by children at higher grades, but the score does not mean that the child could work at the second-grade level.
Scores on the ITBS and CTBS dropped significantly from the 1984-85 school year to the 1985-86 school year. This is because the tests were "re-normed-that is, new national standards were set-not because achievement levels fell.
Below are the vital stats on twelve area elementary schools that have achieved great success in educating the children in their neighborhoods, and in some cases, beyond. Use them as a guideline. Then go and take a look for yourself.