Written by Patricia Hawke for

Imagine you are about to make a move. Your employer has decided that your skills are needed in another part of the country. What neighborhoods are best?  What kinds of schools serve the communities you are considering? How do you find out?  One option is to research school rankings for gen interest; this way, you’ll be armed with valuable, consistent information for the schools you are considering.
So what goes into school rankings for gen interest? How do the “experts” determine which schools are the best, and which schools are improving? There are numerous government agencies and private companies that examine, assess, and analyze a school’s progress.  The School Rankings for general interest findings are published for public use, with the hope that parents will use them for school selection and support of their child’s current school. The reports are also intended for educators, administrators, and schools boards to see what they are doing right, and what needs to change.
Most would assume that the best way to compare school rankings for gen interest at the national level would be to look at test scores. This is difficult, however, if not downright impossible; each state has different curriculum, testing, and performance standards.  Of course, looking at the school rankings for gen interest within one state would use the data from test scores; there are other factors that determine school rankings for gen interest.
For example, one might look at what states are doing in regards to college prep when looking at school rankings for gen interest. Not only is it important to examine how much each state engages students in college prep classes, it’s also necessary to look at how well students are doing, in general terms, in these classes. Information on how many graduates go onto 4-year or 2-year colleges is one type of data to analyze. This is one factor that goes into school rankings for gen interest.
Another factor that influences a state’s school rankings for gen interest is state-level demographic information.  It is a fact, albeit one that most folks are unhappy with, that minority students often do not achieve to their top abilities. Parents who want to know how well their minority group performs in the state of their choice can look at school rankings for gen interest.  States where minorities are excelling and/or improving their achievement are more desirable than those who are not.
Spending data is another area that can be considered when looking at school rankings for gen interest.  Knowing how much a state spends per student in general, as well as operating and instructional expenditures per students is incredibly important.  Some proponents say that all the money in the world cannot help a failing school; whether that’ true or not is impossible to say.  However, an adequate if not generous budget surely helps!
In conclusion, there are many factors that go into determining school rankings for gen interest. Government agencies as well as private companies consider spending data, demographic information, and college prepatory programs.  Within individual states, test scores are also looked considered.
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit School Rankings