Not every student in the US gets a choice of what public high school to enroll in, but in New York City, they do. As part of the nation’s largest public school district, the city’s high schools are able to diversify. This means schools can place special emphasis on any number of disciplines, including the dramatic arts, the math and sciences, or music. Navigating through information to choose the right school has always proved cumbersome and confusing—until now. Parents and students in the city recently gained access to a useful, free online tool: Inside Stats.
A project of Insideschools.org at The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, Inside Stats is an innovative scorecard that provides an in-depth analysis to 422 of the city’s high schools. Information is given across five areas for each of the participating schools:
- “At-A-Glance” Statistics: the number of students, attendance records, uniforms, etc.
- Safety and Vibe: the average class size, ratings of teachers and principals, the level of order and discipline.
- Who Graduates: the graduation and drop-out data numbers.
- College Prep: the Advanced Placement scores offerings and the rate of college enrollments.
- Special Ed and ELL: the tnclusion of disabled students in school activities, success of English Language Learners.
Clara Hemphill, the editor in chief of insideschools.org, and her team began tinkering with the idea of designing a new school scoring system after critiquing the NYC Department of Education’s school Progress Reports. In assessing oversimplified analysis that resulted in a single “A” to “F” letter grade, Inside Schools wanted a system that more adequately portrayed the strengths and weaknesses of each high school.
“With Inside Stats, we hope to offer a more nuanced picture, because different schools are good at different things,” said Hemphill. “Some schools take high-achieving kids and push them to ever greater heights. But others do a particularly good job with kids who need special education or English as a Second Language. Inside Stats shows you the difference.”
Developing the scorecard was no easy process. Inside Schools conducted a number of interviews with students, parents, administrators, teachers, and others to determine what elements were most important to each focus group, and why. Learn more about Inside Stats by clicking here.