Who Uses School Rankings

Patricia Hawke

School rankings as a means to assess the success of the nation’s public schools have become as much a part of our culture as report cards and cafeteria food. While there are a lot of opinions on how effective and accurate there rankings are, and on there ultimate impact on the schools system, it sure seems like they are here to stay. As someone who is NOT fond of the whole rankings system, I do understand it. Having state or national standards are a means to hold educators and administrators responsible for doing their jobs.
The down sides include limiting teachers’ abilities to incorporate content and teaching methods, a narrow picture of a school’s progress, and increased pressure on everyone involved to master limited criteria. So why do I think we’re stuck with the system. The answer’s simple. More people than just parents are relying on school rankings. You might be surprised by some of the people who seek out schools rankings every day.
Politicians Love Schools Rankings
OK, this one may not be a huge surprise. However, politicians generally like the school rankings system because it is a way for them to “prove” their success. As with most numbers and statistics, they can be used to prove pretty much anything you want them to. And for politicians with good spin doctors on their side, the proper focus on the desired school rankings can make them look good.
Investors Use School Rankings
Why would investors use school rankings? Well, I’m referring to real estate investors who depend on school ranking when they decide where to purchase property. Buildings and homes in high rated districts will draw a different type of renter than those in poorly rated districts. Different investors are looking for different types of property investments. In addition to getting as much information about any area they consider buying, knowledge of local school rankings, population growth, or plans to build additional schools are important.
Bankers Look at School Rankings
Bankers and mortgage lenders all consider school rankings when deciding whether or not to make loans to businesses or individuals. A banker will do his or her due diligence by driving by (or at least researching) a property site before agreeing to make a loan to a new business or investor. School rankings tell them a lot about the area’s income and its growth and development.  It can be helpful to get a feel for the neighborhood because low income or percent of children who receive reduced lunches is usually a category on school rankings for K-12. And the affluence or lack of it in a neighbor hood does impact a school’s climate and effectiveness. But here’s what worries me. Too many people will stop their search immediately if a school isn’t an “A” school, or if the low income percentages are too high. There are other factors to consider that may or may not show up on school rankings
Since both politicians and businesses have interest in school rankings, it’s pretty safe to say that they’re going to be around for a while. And if you don’t really like your school’s ranking, well, maybe you can invest in a rental property and add to the community’s development prospects.