How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am

I’m sure this has come up enough times, but I’ll ask again. My family is in a bind regarding whether to buy a home in a slightly more affluent neighborhood with excellent schools. Our current home is a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, but it is zoned to average schools. The schools are ranked 5, 8, and 5 for elementary, middle and high schools on Greatschools. We’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood with schools ranked 10, 10, and 7 schools. Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max. The target neighborhood is slightly less beautiful, but it has a lot of amenities and has a lot of high earners (our home price and income level would be in the bottom half of the distribution). The only downsides are that the elementary school is significantly less diverse than the nom and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol. We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?

[Edit] Our kid start school next year. Also, for starters, we are zoned to this school (https://www.greatschools.org/texas/hous ... ry-School/) and we're thinking of moving to a home in this school zone (https://www.greatschools.org/texas/cypr ... ry-School/).

Thanks!
Last edited by SeekingBogle on Tue May 15, 2018 5:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

staythecourse
Posts: 5960
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by staythecourse » Sat May 12, 2018 11:50 am

SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
I’m sure this has come up enough times, but I’ll ask again. My family is in a bind regarding whether to buy a home in a slightly more affluent neighborhood with excellent schools. Our current home is a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, but it is zoned to average schools. The schools are ranked 5, 8, and 5 for elementary, middle and high schools on Greatschools. We’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood with schools ranked 10, 10, and 7 schools. Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max. The target neighborhood is slightly less beautiful, but it has a lot of amenities and has a lot of high earners (our home price and income level would be in the bottom half of the distribution). The only downsides are that the elementary school is significantly less diverse than the nom and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol. We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?

Thanks!
There are many opinions on this. If you are specifically looking for data I would suggest going on line and seeing if the state exam kids take every year can be accessed online. In our state the state exam is taken by EVERY public school student in the state and that data is published. It used to be granulated down to different grades and subjects in those years. I used to look at the % of kids who far exceeded the passing minimum as an academic barometer to compare one school with another.

In the end though after going through the process with a kid who is finishing KG I would say the most important are: Safety, parents who are well educated (affluent socioeconomic), parents who are involved, and some production pressure on the teachers to perform. As an example of the last point, our kid goes to a magnet school which is one of the top performing public schools in our city so I can bet there is a ton of production pressure on the teachers to get high performing results so the teachers union can use it as an example to keep getting raises every couple of years.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 19149
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat May 12, 2018 11:51 am

SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
I’m sure this has come up enough times, but I’ll ask again. My family is in a bind regarding whether to buy a home in a slightly more affluent neighborhood with excellent schools. Our current home is a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, but it is zoned to average schools. The schools are ranked 5, 8, and 5 for elementary, middle and high schools on Greatschools. We’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood with schools ranked 10, 10, and 7 schools. Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max. The target neighborhood is slightly less beautiful, but it has a lot of amenities and has a lot of high earners (our home price and income level would be in the bottom half of the distribution). The only downsides are that the elementary school is significantly less diverse than the nom and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol. We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?

Thanks!
The fact you both hold graduate degrees has no statistical significance in my mind on the outcome of your child's ability, in my mind.
The disadvantage of moving to a higher income neighborhood where you will be in the bottom half of the distribution - you will have less disposable income to dedicate towards your child and participating in non-school activities. You'll see it when your invited to someone's birthday party and the local jump-nasium, and then the flood of other invites that come. Your kid will get to hear about classmates who went on an African safari or grand European trip during spring break. Unless this other neighborhood is offering high level courses above and beyond your own neighborhood, it would not be compelling enough for me to move. Things that compel me to move - job, crime factor, it's unsafe to live there, the schools are absolutely terrible which then leads to your home being worth nothing. I don't need to move to keep up with the noveau-riche wanna be's.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

bogglizer
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2016 8:56 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by bogglizer » Sat May 12, 2018 12:02 pm

We did just what you are considering. The price difference for us was more like an extra $400K to get into a GS=9 district. GS=10's in our area where substantially more. I don't know whether the schools are genuinely better; the GS scores often depend more on the preparedness of the incoming students than anything else. For example, if, say, a middle school draws from a bunch of elementary schools that are 10's and 5's, the middle school's score will probably be around 7.

Still not sure if we made a good choice.

User avatar
Raymond
Posts: 1285
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:04 am
Location: Texas

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Raymond » Sat May 12, 2018 12:03 pm

In your situation, I would stay in your present house.

Grt2bOutdoors covered pretty much what I was going to say.
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"

staythecourse
Posts: 5960
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by staythecourse » Sat May 12, 2018 12:06 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:51 am
The fact you both hold graduate degrees has no statistical significance in my mind on the outcome of your child's ability, in my mind.
The disadvantage of moving to a higher income neighborhood where you will be in the bottom half of the distribution - you will have less disposable income to dedicate towards your child and participating in non-school activities. You'll see it when your invited to someone's birthday party and the local jump-nasium, and then the flood of other invites that come. Your kid will get to hear about classmates who went on an African safari or grand European trip during spring break. Unless this other neighborhood is offering high level courses above and beyond your own neighborhood, it would not be compelling enough for me to move. Things that compel me to move - job, crime factor, it's unsafe to live there, the schools are absolutely terrible which then leads to your home being worth nothing. I don't need to move to keep up with the noveau-riche wanna be's.
Doesn't that come off as sort of snobbish the other way?

What's wrong even if your child is confronted with folks who say the summered in France? When the child asks why not us just say it costs money and if you want that in the future it is up to you to get educated and make the money to buy that. That is what I already tell my KG when she asks why can't I have x. I see it as a teaching lesson. Maybe this is the way to motivate your child to do better at school so they can have x, y, and z. Trying to avoid the different lifestyles opportunities that money can give someone avoids the reality of life, no?

Heck, that exact conversation may spur the whole what is money good for and what you would do with it if you had it which is what investing is all based on.

Good luck.

p.s. I am differentiating between old money vs. new money wealth. We have some HIGH end private schools for old money and have had some doctor friends send their kids there and they felt uncomfortable as their values are not always entrenched in education, but being socialites.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Sat May 12, 2018 12:25 pm

[/quote]

There are many opinions on this. If you are specifically looking for data I would suggest going on line and seeing if the state exam kids take every year can be accessed online. In our state the state exam is taken by EVERY public school student in the state and that data is published. It used to be granulated down to different grades and subjects in those years. I used to look at the % of kids who far exceeded the passing minimum as an academic barometer to compare one school with another.

In the end though after going through the process with a kid who is finishing KG I would say the most important are: Safety, parents who are well educated (affluent socioeconomic), parents who are involved, and some production pressure on the teachers to perform. As an example of the last point, our kid goes to a magnet school which is one of the top performing public schools in our city so I can bet there is a ton of production pressure on the teachers to get high performing results so the teachers union can use it as an example to keep getting raises every couple of years.

Good luck.
[/quote]

Thanks! The factors you mentioned appear to be prevalent among more affluent districts where we live.

craiggsean
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:47 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by craiggsean » Sat May 12, 2018 12:31 pm

Just a reminder regarding greatshools rating. It is a relative local metric.

I experienced a few different 10/10 schools in 2 different states.

The gap is quite big in quality (teacher-to-student ratio, resources, extracurricular programs, facilities, etc.)
Usually, the higher the local property tax, the better the local public schools are funded.

So I wouldn't put too much weight on the greatschools rating and just use it as a rough filter.
Do the real research by observing the school playground, talking to parents (even though they are still biased.), talk to school staff, etc.

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Sat May 12, 2018 12:50 pm

[/quote]

The fact you both hold graduate degrees has no statistical significance in my mind on the outcome of your child's ability, in my mind.
The disadvantage of moving to a higher income neighborhood where you will be in the bottom half of the distribution - you will have less disposable income to dedicate towards your child and participating in non-school activities. You'll see it when your invited to someone's birthday party and the local jump-nasium, and then the flood of other invites that come. Your kid will get to hear about classmates who went on an African safari or grand European trip during spring break. Unless this other neighborhood is offering high level courses above and beyond your own neighborhood, it would not be compelling enough for me to move. Things that compel me to move - job, crime factor, it's unsafe to live there, the schools are absolutely terrible which then leads to your home being worth nothing. I don't need to move to keep up with the noveau-riche wanna be's.
[/quote]

Gotcha. The problem I see with our current schools/lower performing schools is that the teachers spend so much time bringing everyone to level rather than getting them to be competitive. In my community, this means spending most of class time with nonnative English speakers, etc, to get them to the state level while higher performing schools are getting their kids to do much more. I don’t have a problem with bringing everyone to level, but that means smart kids aren’t challenged and average kids only get to level. I’m looking at all factors considering a probably average child who would likely learn only what he is taught, etc.

Also, bear in mind, the target neighborhood is not a zillionaire neighborhood, etc. It’s just one with more doctors, lawyers, accountants and lots of oil-type professionals since this is Texas.we’re talking median household incomes of $125k vs $100k. The median home there is $330K and we’re going to be spending a max of $300K. In terms of distance, it’s 2 minutes closer to my job so it’s a nonfactor.

Also, we have family abroad so we would likely be the ones talking about travel...only to more modest destinations.

livesoft
Posts: 62689
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by livesoft » Sat May 12, 2018 12:55 pm

I didn't read any of the replies. I'd say that the more expensive home is the place to go if it reduces your commute-to-work time now and in the future.

I'll disagree that the 2 minutes closer is a non-factor. Things will change over the years, so the commute time could change significantly.

Such a home will be easier to sell later on, too.

If you pm the two ZIP codes, then I can comment more.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

ETadvisor
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:37 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by ETadvisor » Sat May 12, 2018 12:58 pm

SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
I’m sure this has come up enough times, but I’ll ask again. My family is in a bind regarding whether to buy a home in a slightly more affluent neighborhood with excellent schools. Our current home is a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, but it is zoned to average schools. The schools are ranked 5, 8, and 5 for elementary, middle and high schools on Greatschools. We’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood with schools ranked 10, 10, and 7 schools. Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max. The target neighborhood is slightly less beautiful, but it has a lot of amenities and has a lot of high earners (our home price and income level would be in the bottom half of the distribution). The only downsides are that the elementary school is significantly less diverse than the nom and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol. We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?

Thanks!
I did it a few years ago. Traded in late 1980's Larger House (2800 sq ft) in nice neighborhood with average schools for Smaller House (2100 sq ft) built in 2000 in nicer neighborhood with excellent schools. Same amount of bedrooms (4). Only 5k more comparing sales price and purchase price. I was able to receive same interest rate (3.5%) as other house. Acquired larger HOA expense and taxes (not as significant of an increase as anticipated) with added security (gated) and gave up the pool, more acreage, more maintenance and higher utility bills. For us, it was either move or private schools and we have no regrets with our move. My oldest is starting elementary school and the school rating 9/10 is fairly accurate based upon the eyeball test and public perception/feedback. House will always be in higher demand due to excellent schools. A 3/2 down the street just sold for more than we paid.
Last edited by ETadvisor on Sat May 12, 2018 1:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Alexa9
Posts: 1559
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:41 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Alexa9 » Sat May 12, 2018 12:59 pm

I would want my kids to go to the best possible schools. That is the most important factor in my mind.

ETadvisor
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:37 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by ETadvisor » Sat May 12, 2018 1:01 pm

Alexa9 wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 12:59 pm
I would want my kids to go to the best possible schools. That is the most important factor in my mind.
+1

staythecourse
Posts: 5960
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by staythecourse » Sat May 12, 2018 1:07 pm

Alexa9 wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 12:59 pm
I would want my kids to go to the best possible schools. That is the most important factor in my mind.
That is not the question. Do you know anybody who is well educated who says, "I don't really care about my kid's education and would rather buy the house down the street from my favorite restaurants"?

The question that has no answer is WHAT constitutes the "best possible school"? That is not as easy as you would think looking at actual educational studies.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

ETadvisor
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:37 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by ETadvisor » Sat May 12, 2018 1:12 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 1:07 pm
Alexa9 wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 12:59 pm
I would want my kids to go to the best possible schools. That is the most important factor in my mind.
That is not the question. Do you know anybody who is well educated who says, "I don't really care about my kid's education and would rather buy the house down the street from my favorite restaurants"?

The question that has no answer is WHAT constitutes the "best possible school"? That is not as easy as you would think looking at actual educational studies.

Good luck.
The OP's elementary school choices of 5 vs 10 per GreatSchools is impactful and should not to be disregarded in my southern state. Could be different in the Northeast or other area.

delamer
Posts: 6089
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by delamer » Sat May 12, 2018 1:15 pm

We bought a home in a highly ranked schools area (as in top 100 in the nation).

While home prices went down in the area during the recession, the decline was not as much as other areas and the recovery has been quicker.

We were probably about in the middle of the income distribution when we bought, and ours kids associated with some kids who were better off financially and some who were worse off financially. They learned lessons from both groups — one being that wealth doesn’t shield you from all of life’s difficulties. And, eventually, that some of the affluent-appearing kids really are wealthy and some have student loans and parents who will need to work until they are 70.

The biggest issue for our kids was the academic pressure. There is grade, extra curricular, and college snobbery. If I got to do it all over again, I’d have bought into above average but not outstanding schools.

Good luck.

User avatar
fortfun
Posts: 977
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by fortfun » Sat May 12, 2018 1:20 pm

SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
I’m sure this has come up enough times, but I’ll ask again. My family is in a bind regarding whether to buy a home in a slightly more affluent neighborhood with excellent schools. Our current home is a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, but it is zoned to average schools. The schools are ranked 5, 8, and 5 for elementary, middle and high schools on Greatschools. We’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood with schools ranked 10, 10, and 7 schools. Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max. The target neighborhood is slightly less beautiful, but it has a lot of amenities and has a lot of high earners (our home price and income level would be in the bottom half of the distribution). The only downsides are that the elementary school is significantly less diverse than the nom and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol. We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?

Thanks!
Have you considered choicing into one of those schools? That's what we've done. We provide transportation but they aren't too far away.

supersecretname
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:33 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by supersecretname » Sat May 12, 2018 1:40 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 12:06 pm
What's wrong even if your child is confronted with folks who say the summered in France? When the child asks why not us just say it costs money and if you want that in the future it is up to you to get educated and make the money to buy that.
ditto to this. I rent a townhouse in a very good school district so my kids can be in better schools. They know they are on the lower end of economic scale comparatively (i'm not poor or anything. IT vs doctors/lawyers/biz execs). If you don't see very successful people, it's hard to imagine yourself in that scenario for when you get older. But they also know it takes a crapload of work to get there.

Also, if your kid is smart, being around other smart kids will be normal life, and they won't be singled out.

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Sat May 12, 2018 1:58 pm

[/quote]

Have you considered choicing into one of those schools? That's what we've done. We provide transportation but they aren't too far away.
[/quote]


That's definitely an option. Especially if we decide to stay. There are different issues that we’d deal with though, including the lottery system where we live.

kelvan80
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:06 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by kelvan80 » Sat May 12, 2018 2:02 pm

Haven't read the replies yet but I'd actually talk to parents from each school. We've been in a 9 school before and actually had the worst experience ever.

User avatar
fortfun
Posts: 977
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by fortfun » Sat May 12, 2018 2:11 pm

SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 1:58 pm
Have you considered choicing into one of those schools? That's what we've done. We provide transportation but they aren't too far away.
[/quote]


That's definitely an option. Especially if we decide to stay. There are different issues that we’d deal with though, including the lottery system where we live.
[/quote]

We choice into many and usually get accepted by a few. The school rankings that you mention are probably based mostly on student test scores. Parent's social economic status and test scores are highly correlated. Their kids would probably do well in the lower ranked schools and vice versa. So, I wouldn't switch for this reason alone. However, if you like the homes/neighborhood much better in the other part of town, you should consider the move. Our home is right near the foothills and adjacent to open space, so we are staying put. I will say that some of the best teachers I know work at some of the toughest schools. Your child will probably be fine regardless of his/her school. Just make sure he/she works hard and you provide some extra challenge for him/her.

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Sat May 12, 2018 2:18 pm

fortfun wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 2:11 pm
SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 1:58 pm
Have you considered choicing into one of those schools? That's what we've done. We provide transportation but they aren't too far away.

That's definitely an option. Especially if we decide to stay. There are different issues that we’d deal with though, including the lottery system where we live.
[/quote]

We choice into many and usually get accepted by a few. The school rankings that you mention are probably based mostly on student test scores. Parent's social economic status and test scores are highly correlated. Their kids would probably do well in the lower ranked schools and vice versa. So, I wouldn't switch for this reason alone. However, if you like the homes/neighborhood much better in the other part of town, you should consider the move. Our home is right near the foothills and adjacent to open space, so we are staying put. I will say that some of the best teachers I know work at some of the toughest schools. Your child will probably be fine regardless of his/her school. Just make sure he/she works hard and you provide some extra challenge for him/her.
[/quote]

Gotcha. Thanks

JBTX
Posts: 4031
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by JBTX » Sat May 12, 2018 2:46 pm

There’s no clear cut right answer here. There have been some studies that your kid will tend to gravitate towards his or her ability regardless of school. Also there is a school of thought that it is better to be top dog amongst average performers vs middle of the pack vs high performers.

Those rankings are often just a reflection of the affluence and socioeconomic status of the kids. It isn’t necessarily a reflection of the quality of teachers or instruction. Of course in some situations you can get to the point where the safety and well being is compromised if there is a widespread environment of not caring from the parents, students and ultimately the teachers, but I suspect that isn’t the case in your situation.

My kids went to an elementary school that had the top rating, but they shifted students around and made that school a second language school and the ranking dropped to above average simply because the student composition and test scores changed. It was largely the same teachers and admin I don’t think the educational quality changed at all.

I’d talk to parents with kids in the school to get their opinion.

Personally, as long as the schools are respectable and safe, I don’t think it makes a ton of difference in the lower grades. It might make a difference in higher grades.

I don’t think I’d move just because of the better ranked schools. If there were other compelling reasons to move then perhaps so.

Also rankings can change as neighborhoods mature or are rezoned due to growth . Some of the schools have gotten better rankings, some marginally worse. But I don’t feel like the school materially changed. Best I can tell it is almost entirely based on the affluence of the kids zoned in that area.

srt7
Posts: 226
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:19 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by srt7 » Sat May 12, 2018 4:32 pm

OP,

I live in a house that is zoned to a 10, 9, 8 per GS. Every once a while I keep getting this brilliant idea to move to a location with schools that are 10,10, 9. I'd be taking on a loan that is twice my current one and instead of having a paid off house within 10 years I'd be stuck making payments for the next 30 years.

So far I've been able to talk sense in to myself and stayed put. After a bit of digging ... it seems the thought usually pops up after a meetup with certain group of friends.

Just saying that our motivation and rationalization for such things can come from multiple sources and not from within.
I can't think of anything more luxurious than owning my time. - remomnyc

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Sat May 12, 2018 8:39 pm

Thanks, all.

curmudgeon
Posts: 1585
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by curmudgeon » Sat May 12, 2018 9:24 pm

Here in Silicon Valley, I would probably avoid the highest ranked schools. They can be really high pressure/stress on the kids, and I've seen a number of co-workers come to regret going for them. Too many kids doped up with dubiously prescribed ADHD drugs, higher suicide rates, early burnout, no outside life. Most kids are adaptable enough to deal with it, but it's not as ideal as the ratings might imply.

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 19149
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat May 12, 2018 9:52 pm

curmudgeon wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 9:24 pm
Here in Silicon Valley, I would probably avoid the highest ranked schools. They can be really high pressure/stress on the kids, and I've seen a number of co-workers come to regret going for them. Too many kids doped up with dubiously prescribed ADHD drugs, higher suicide rates, early burnout, no outside life. Most kids are adaptable enough to deal with it, but it's not as ideal as the ratings might imply.
See the same on the East Coast - what you describe above is prevalent nationwide, one just needs to open their eyes to see what's really going on.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

3funder
Posts: 712
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:35 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by 3funder » Sun May 13, 2018 1:35 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:51 am
SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
I’m sure this has come up enough times, but I’ll ask again. My family is in a bind regarding whether to buy a home in a slightly more affluent neighborhood with excellent schools. Our current home is a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood, but it is zoned to average schools. The schools are ranked 5, 8, and 5 for elementary, middle and high schools on Greatschools. We’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood with schools ranked 10, 10, and 7 schools. Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max. The target neighborhood is slightly less beautiful, but it has a lot of amenities and has a lot of high earners (our home price and income level would be in the bottom half of the distribution). The only downsides are that the elementary school is significantly less diverse than the nom and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol. We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?

Thanks!
The fact you both hold graduate degrees has no statistical significance in my mind on the outcome of your child's ability, in my mind.
The disadvantage of moving to a higher income neighborhood where you will be in the bottom half of the distribution - you will have less disposable income to dedicate towards your child and participating in non-school activities. You'll see it when your invited to someone's birthday party and the local jump-nasium, and then the flood of other invites that come. Your kid will get to hear about classmates who went on an African safari or grand European trip during spring break. Unless this other neighborhood is offering high level courses above and beyond your own neighborhood, it would not be compelling enough for me to move. Things that compel me to move - job, crime factor, it's unsafe to live there, the schools are absolutely terrible which then leads to your home being worth nothing. I don't need to move to keep up with the noveau-riche wanna be's.
Children don't have to go on a dumb African safari just because their classmates did. My family used to live in Chappaqua,NY. Other families in the neighborhood wanted their preschool-aged children to learn Japanese (this was prior to the Nikkei implosion); my parents rolled their eyes. The Jones family might be kooky, but there's no rule that states others must follow suit. Money doesn't buy character. Some rich folks are pretty worthless, if you catch my drift. Having said all this, if you aren't comfortable with the academic environment certain schools might afford your children, it's a bad idea to send them there. I teach at a local public high school, and while I love my job, there's no way I'd send my son there.

goodlifer
Posts: 412
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by goodlifer » Sun May 13, 2018 11:59 pm

I prefer School Digger over Great Schools. It provides more information and is more accurate for our area schools. There are also our local metro paper's rankings, the metro magazine's rankings, and so on. If you dig hard enough, you can probably find a site that ranks any school favorably. Great Schools ranks our school as an 8, and the worst school in the district at a 7. The one that is ranked 7 is widely known as garbage. The two most common complaints are that the kids turn out to be pretty far behind other kids when they move and go to a different school system, and that a lot of problem kids go there. My nephew went there for a few years and was behind our daughter academically. I don't see how it managed to rank a 7 at all. I think someone has already mentioned the risk of rezoning. We live in an area that is finally almost built out. Our schools used to be part of a nationally ranked system but changed to a much lower ranked system right before we moved in. It was much lower at first, but now our system scores higher than most of the other local schools. It is good enough for us.

If you do move, your extra mortgage is only the tip of the iceberg. You will expected to contribute more in both participation and funding towards your kid's. You are expected to provide additional nurturing outside of school such as private coaches and enrichment trips, in addition to the school sponsored trips and extra curriculars. And of course, your child has to have the best band instrument/soccer cleats/track shoes and fluffiest of pompoms. I'm not being funny about it. It really is expected. Not to mention that your property taxes get raised every time the school district asks for it because they are desperate to keep that high ranking.

Having said that, if I had to pay $100,000 more to go from a 5 to a 10, I would do it. A 5 to a 7? Not so much, especially if it meant going to the school in our district that is ranked a 7.

retired recently
Posts: 306
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by retired recently » Mon May 14, 2018 5:12 am

My wife and I attempted to do this when we relocated by looking at school performance on state tests and learned this was a poor measure as it did not adequately identify schools that would challenge kids who were advanced.

Our son is pretty good at math so if we had it to do over again, I would go to the maa.org website and find which schools in my area did well on the AMC 8 exam and ensure I was in that school district. I believe doing this would put your kid in a cohort of advanced kids.

dsmclone
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:50 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by dsmclone » Mon May 14, 2018 6:38 am

Greatschools kind of sounds like a joke. I don't have kids but I just looked up our local high school:

On Great Schools it gets a 4.

On U.S. News it gets the following

Graduation Rate 96%
19:1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO
Average ACT 27
Average SAT 1290
AP enrollment 44%

Maybe this is a Texas Vs. Iowa issue. Pretty much all the metro suburbs have good schools in Iowa but it sounds like the very top schools in Texas are very good and the bottom ones are very bad.

Leemiller
Posts: 1049
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:42 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Leemiller » Mon May 14, 2018 7:45 am

I’d move. I went to a magnet school with kids like that and my “norm” was profoundly different than my sister’s who went to our zoned school. My friends were mostly kids of professionals, college was assumed because generally so was graduate school. My sister’s friends just had overall lower goals and expectations. It definitely impacted her college choice.

Now we live in a neighborhood like that, and my daughter is friends with kids whose parents tend to have professional degrees. As an aside, my high school had a lot of diversity, but I don’t think it was character building. Pretty lucky to have avoided some of the issues that were more rampant there frankly in contrast to my sister’s school.

gips
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 5:42 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by gips » Mon May 14, 2018 8:06 am

SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
Such a home would be larger and less than $100k more, but will add $6-800 to our house payment -i.e. from $1200 to $2000 max.
tax deductible, right? so after tax impact is probably closer to $500-$600? what about property taxes?

We can comfortably afford the home, although we would miss the extra disposable income. Lol.
assuming after-tax impact is $600/month or $7200 per year, how long will it take you and your wife to make up that difference? assuming a combined, 6 figure income, I'm guessing two years? Depending on your career arc, you may eventually find yourself in the top half of the income distribution.

We think our kid will be slightly above average in intelligence since we both have graduate degrees, but probably not a superstar or significantly athletically gifted if that helps. In any case, we are obsessing over it and need guidance since our kid starts school next year.
A high tide lifts all boats. I don't think anyone would call my kids academically gifted but they attended a top public school and did well with their college admissions (an ivy, a top 20 lac and a top public university). The school provided a rich set of ap courses, ecs and excellent teachers. Our kids had an easy academic transition to college

I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?
op, agree or disagree with what I've written above, but consider this carefully: we had a similar choice and every, single day we dropped our kids off at school, we knew they were in good hands and we'd done the best we could by them

Jags4186
Posts: 2450
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Jags4186 » Mon May 14, 2018 8:25 am

We bought a house in a town where the elementary and middle schools are both great school 10s and the high school is a 4. I don’t really understand how the kids/faculty/administration all got so much dumber between 8th and 9th grade.

My suggestion to you is to live in the less expensive town and when your kid goes to high school you can either move or send them to a private high school. 4 years of high school tuition will likely be cheaper than living in a more expensive house for 20 years. And don’t worry about the “they want to stay with their friends” argument. I was sent to an all boys high school against my will where I knew no one. I look back upon high school more fondly than I do college...and boy did I love college. In fact my closest friends today are the guys I went to high school with. If we have a son and live in the area he will be going to that same school.

gips
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 5:42 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by gips » Mon May 14, 2018 8:48 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 8:25 am
And don’t worry about the “they want to stay with their friends” argument. I was sent to an all boys high school against my will where I knew no one. I look back upon high school more fondly than I do college...and boy did I love college. In fact my closest friends today are the guys I went to high school with. If we have a son and live in the area he will be going to that same school.
Just the opposite for me, I was in k-8 with the same kids, my father had a good reason to move us but I did lose all my old friends and found it very hard to make new friends since friends/groups were already made. In the end, a terrible experience but I did have a great college experience. I do agree, that approach may be financial superior but, depending on the number of kids and housing prices, may not.

GCD
Posts: 537
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by GCD » Mon May 14, 2018 8:53 am

Typically, the way schools are ranked is by standardized test scores. Teachers are under a lot of pressure to jack up those scores. IMO that sometimes/often leads to overburdening students with homework and that impacts quality of life for the whole family.

My daughter went to a 10/10 grade school. Her teacher assigned 4+ hours of homework a night in 5th grade. It was so bad we were researching county homework policies. My daughter is pretty bright and disciplined so the homework burden wasn't that she was the dumbest kid in class. At the end of the year she ended up getting a perfect score on the state standardized test (SOL). So yay, she contributed to a great score for the school and a continued ranking of 10/10, but at the price of many miserable nights.

She had to quit all her outside activities except gymnastics, and that she was only able to do because she did homework in the car.

Teachers and schools get assessed by how great the kids do on standardized tests, not on the quality of life the kids have outside school. Personally, I think a well-rounded kid who isn't a one-dimensional academic grind is a good thing. There are no repercussions for a teacher who assigns a ton of homework. The kids do better on the standardized test so the teacher looks good, but the teacher doesn't have to deal with the negative impact of the excess homework.

Both my kids are/will be attending a HS that is 7/10. The principal there has a strict policy that teachers cannot assign homework on holidays, and spring or winter break. It's a much better balance and they are still able to take honors, AP, and dual-enrollment classes.

So just be conscious of what you ask for. I know the OP cited rankings that were lower, but still something to consider.

rhornback
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:59 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by rhornback » Mon May 14, 2018 9:14 am

As others have said, I do not think there are clear cut answers here. But I wanted to give you opinion.

I grew up in a blue collar area. Well probably worse than a blue collar area. I was an average student in high school. I did the least amount of work to get a decent grade. I think I graduated with a 3.2 or 3.3. After high school I decided to apply myself and went the local junior college and public college where I received a bachelor and masters degree. I went into I.T. because I am competent at it, but frankly largely for the money.

I did not want my kids to have to go through what I did so we now live in a pretty affluent area. My son has graduated and my daughter is a sophomore. Frankly I am not all that impressed. My neighbors have big houses but the dads are traveling and working all the time. The school has lots of opportunities in the arts but the "theater moms" are incredibly competitive and spend lots of money on private lessons. Not to sound sexist so let me throw it out there that the "sport dads' are also extremely competitive and I see many athletes with private lessons, travel teams, and playing the same sport all year round.

Note that the above also can occur at other schools at various levels of affluence. My son played travel basketball for a while and I was amazed by the spend rate and certainly not all the parents were that affluent.

If I would do it over again I would go to an above average school in an above average area. Note I would not go to school where I went (a poor school) because as other posters indicated in poor performing schools the teachers spend way to much time trying to maintain order and discipline amongst the kids.

However at an above averge school there are usually enough honors and AP classes that a good student will get a good education.

Going back to my education, I would say that a motivated student at an above average school who goes into a field which is in demand do quite OK in his life.

I hope I have helped.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 14061
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Watty » Mon May 14, 2018 9:59 am

I did a corporate relocation when my son was in middle school so we had to quickly pick out a house and choosing the schools were a big factor. A few things I learned were;

1) There is no substitute to actually visiting the schools. In addition to getting a feel about the school you can see things that will not show up on the school ratings like if there are a dozen temporary classrooms(glorified mobile homes) because the school is overcrowded. At the high school drive through the student parking lot. At one high school there were a noticeable number of Mercedes and BMWs in the student parking lot and even a late model Corvette! We decided our son would not fit in at that high school.

2) The area we were househunting in was mainly in a huge school district that has over a dozen large high schools. The areas they served went from pretty affluent to more blue collar but there were not any real ghetto areas. The school ratings varied significantly and the ratings consistently got better as the areas became more affluent. In talking with a counselor about this one thing that we found out was that all the high schools in the school districts had basically the same curriculum and resources and the main difference was in the demographics of the students. The underperforming areas actually got some supplemental support and has slightly smaller class sizes.

Apparently even if a kid is adopted one of the best predictors of the way a student will perform is the education level of their parents and in the more affluent areas the parents on average had a lot better education which was the main reason that the schools were better rated. Another big factor in predicting student achievement is if the kid is in single parent household and that is more common in the less affluent areas too.

Actually measuring the quality of a school program is extremely hard since the student demographics is such a big factor.

That said, going from a school that is rated a 5 to a 10 is a big difference and even if the programs were identical at some point having your kid in a school with lots of disruptive kids would be concerning. Better and more experienced teachers will also tend to go to school with fewer disruptive kids since that makes their work more enjoyable.
SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
.....and the homes are closer to flood prone areas.
Do not underestimate this risk and budget for flood insurance even if you are not required to buy it. I have been in a house that had minor flood damage and when we bought our next house finding one with no risk of flooding was a "must have".
SeekingBogle wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:10 am
I’m sure many on this board have dealt with this. How did you make your call?
This was about 15 years ago and I don't think the Great Schools ranking existed then but we ended up buying a medium price house where the high school might have ranked an 8. Over time the rating of that high school has actually improved and it is rated as a 10 and that has helped the resale value of our house.

If your kids are young then the rating of the high school might not mean a lot since it can change a lot before they get into high school. If possible try to figure out the general trend on if the high schools are improving or getting worse.

In retrospect I think my son would have done better at a smaller high school, but there are not many smaller high schools in our area. His high school has over 2,000 students and was probably a bit overwhelming for him at times. The large size allows them to offer a lot of things like AP classes and extracurricular activities but it also means that you also need to be exceptional to get a place in a school play or a sports team so it does tend to be overly competitive. If the schools you are looking at are a lot different in size then I would give that a lot of weight in deciding what is best for your kids.

FoolMeOnce
Posts: 280
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:16 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by FoolMeOnce » Mon May 14, 2018 10:17 am

Take Greatschools rating with huge lumps of salt. We have heard nothing but glowing things about the elementary school our kids will go to from anyone we come into contact with who sends their kids there. This is in an affluent neighborhood, yet with a student population that is diverse in many ways. We are thrilled to have no reservations about using the school. Its Greatschools rating is 5.

Our high school was just rated in the top ten in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report. Its Greatschools rating is 7.

As others have said, tour the schools, meet the principals, find a way get in touch with current parents.

aristotelian
Posts: 4665
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by aristotelian » Mon May 14, 2018 10:20 am

Schools are very important. I would certainly consider moving to find one with the right fit. Also consider the availability of private options if publics don't work out. I would not trust Greatschools rankings. Visit the schools yourself, or at least talk to parents in the two areas.

User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 11674
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by HomerJ » Mon May 14, 2018 11:05 am

rhornback wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 9:14 am
However at an above averge school there are usually enough honors and AP classes that a good student will get a good education.
This.

A good school can be just as good for a bright student as an elite school (This holds for high school AND college).

Because you don't need 90% of the students to be super bright (an elite school). Even in a school where "only" 20%-30% of the students are super bright, they will still all be in the same classes together, and you get all the same benefits.
The J stands for Jay

Murgatroyd
Posts: 102
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:23 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Murgatroyd » Mon May 14, 2018 1:19 pm

This is really tough and your focus on it is warranted. So many issues and well discussed above. Something not discussed is “getting behind”

Two opposite personal cases in point. My parents moved us after my 7th grade year. I was probably one of the top 3 or 4 students in the old school. It took me over a year to catch-up at the new school and the best I could do was top 10% graduating HS.
My daughter went the other way. We had her in a very good HS and had to transfer her to a private school for her senior year (sports recruiting related). At the new highly regarded school she did nothing her senior year because the new school was so far behind. At least the gambit was worthwhile.

Moral of story is do the best you can for your children. Don’t let them get behind in this have and have not society.

Easy Rhino
Posts: 3267
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 11:13 am
Location: San Diego

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by Easy Rhino » Mon May 14, 2018 1:53 pm

you mention you can comfortably afford the new payment, but also that you'd miss the money, so there may be a bit of a disconnect there.

Is the idea of private school at all being considered? Because if so, the more expensive house is definitely cheaper than private school.

getthatmarshmallow
Posts: 221
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:43 am

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Mon May 14, 2018 4:03 pm

However one feels about the merits of being the quote-unquote poor kid in the quote-unquote rich school, or vice versa, I'd be skeptical that the Great Schools metrics track much more than test scores and socioeconomic class. And even if they tracked that perfectly, I doubt they're sensitive enough that a 10 vs. a 9 is worth $100,000. Something to keep in mind. What gets measured gets managed but sometimes what gets measured is dumb. :twisted:

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Tue May 15, 2018 10:03 am

Easy Rhino wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:53 pm

Is the idea of private school at all being considered? Because if so, the more expensive house is definitely cheaper than private school.
Private school is out of the question for now. We may consider that for high school depending on the quality of the HS we are zoned to.

User avatar
queso
Posts: 611
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:52 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by queso » Tue May 15, 2018 2:53 pm

+1 to all the posters who questioned the GS rating system. We used to live in a school district that was 9's and 10's K-12. Now we're in a district that is 7, 8 and 6. Did we move? No. Same house. Did several years elapse and the schools went downhill? No. The interval is a few months. So what happened? GS changed their rating system and now count "equity" and other non-academic metrics as part of the overall rating. Just do some drilling down into the data before making up your mind about whether or not a lower rating is actually deserved or if your child(ren) are likely to be impacted by whatever the perceived GS deficiency is.

User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 11674
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by HomerJ » Tue May 15, 2018 3:00 pm

Easy Rhino wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:53 pm
Is the idea of private school at all being considered? Because if so, the more expensive house is definitely cheaper than private school.
Yes, it's almost always better to pay more for a home in a better school district instead of paying for private school.

(1) You get to live in a nicer home for 10+ years
(2) You get most of the money BACK when you sell the home. Private school tuition money is just GONE.
The J stands for Jay

alfaspider
Posts: 1530
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:44 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by alfaspider » Tue May 15, 2018 3:59 pm

dsmclone wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 6:38 am
Greatschools kind of sounds like a joke. I don't have kids but I just looked up our local high school:

On Great Schools it gets a 4.

On U.S. News it gets the following

Graduation Rate 96%
19:1 STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO
Average ACT 27
Average SAT 1290
AP enrollment 44%

Maybe this is a Texas Vs. Iowa issue. Pretty much all the metro suburbs have good schools in Iowa but it sounds like the very top schools in Texas are very good and the bottom ones are very bad.
The great schools website provides a useful explanation of their methodology. Two factors that can weigh heavily on an otherwise high-performing schools are a lack of diversity and poor achievement by disadvantaged children. For example, if a school tracks all the privileged white kids into honors classes where they are taught by the best teachers and have high achievement and warehouses all the poor non-white kids in remedial classes where they do poorly, that could cause a school like the one you cite to have a low rating despite high average test scores and graduation rates.

Whether a school closes achievement gaps and is diverse may or may not be important to a particular parent choosing a school. If it is not important to you, you can always compute their ranking without those categories since they are provided separate scores in each.

Regarding Texas: It is absolutely true that the good schools are very very good and the bad schools are horrid. In my city, the difference from being on one side of a street or another can literally be the difference between attending a super-high achieving school that sends kids to Ivies at a rate similar to high-end private schools, or attending a school where only a minority of the students graduate and go to college.

buffalo
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:12 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by buffalo » Tue May 15, 2018 4:21 pm

For those of you living in Washington State, the education department has recently launched a new school measurement tool that takes a dramatically different approach than that used by Great Schools and others...it measures not just proficiency, but growth.

Imagine that statewide, there are 1000 fourth-graders who earn a score of 410 on the state assessment for math. The next year, as fifth-graders taking a fifth-grade math test, what might their average score be? (We're talking not about fifth-graders in general, but about those specific students that scored 410 as fourth-graders). Let's say that, on average, that cohort scores 420 on the fifth-grade test. Washington's new school measurement tools look at each individual student in that group to see whether their performance is below, at, or above the cohort's average performance the following year. Run the calculation for every student in the state, based on last-year and current-year performance, and you get the new measurement system.

Schools with kids performing better than expected earn high Student Growth Percentile ratings. Schools with kids performing worse than expected earn lower ratings. Instead of just saying, "students do/don't perform well at this school," we can use the data to say "students do/don't learn well at this school." Which means, like the scenario below, that even though a particular school might have low absolute performance (only 31.2% of students proficient in math), students within that building are actually outperforming their prior-year same score cohort throughout the state. As in, students at that school are learning.

In case you want to explore the data, it's available at http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/School ... ar=2016-17

Image

SeekingBogle
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:38 pm

Re: How to think about schools/homes (Greatschools/Niche)

Post by SeekingBogle » Tue May 15, 2018 5:33 pm

queso wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 2:53 pm
+1 to all the posters who questioned the GS rating system. We used to live in a school district that was 9's and 10's K-12. Now we're in a district that is 7, 8 and 6. Did we move? No. Same house. Did several years elapse and the schools went downhill? No. The interval is a few months. So what happened? GS changed their rating system and now count "equity" and other non-academic metrics as part of the overall rating. Just do some drilling down into the data before making up your mind about whether or not a lower rating is actually deserved or if your child(ren) are likely to be impacted by whatever the perceived GS deficiency is.
Gotcha! I think the raw data for our choices is actually more telling than the score. We are zoned to this school (https://www.greatschools.org/texas/hous ... ry-School/), and we're thinking of moving to a home in this school zone (https://www.greatschools.org/texas/cypr ... ry-School/). Check out the state test scores.

Post Reply