Exploring schools data

This article originally appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The numbers are stark.

Only 20 percent of kids in the Rochester city school district read at a level appropriate for their age. But there’s a dramatic difference between how well the kids perform from one school to another. Last Sunday, our education reporter Tiffany Lankes told the story of two city schools, a mile apart. At the first, seventy four percent of students are proficient in math.  At the other, the total is only nine percent.

That’s a huge contrast, but how is a parent supposed to know how well they’re child is being served by their school?

The state’s Department of Education issues annual report cards for each school, but they’re not particularly easy to use. Data from each school is presented in a series of PDF files. It’s difficult to do year-to-year comparisons, and it takes some effort to see how different schools or school districts compare.

That challenge prompted us to develop our own interactive tool for navigating the school data, available at http://rocdocs.com/schools. We gathered the data from the various state reports for all of the public schools in New York and put them in one place.

You can use our tools to see test scores for each district or for individual schools. This includes results of more than a dozen different regent exams, and  the yearly proficiency tests for Math and English given to all students from third to eighth grade. We have also include information on topics such as college readiness, demographics, and staffing.  And with a click of a button, you can compare data from different districts, or even between different schools.

Our reporters cover the public schools pretty extensively during the course of a year, and we publish dozens of separate school related data sets – everything from graduation rates to teacher salaries.  Moving forward, we’ll integrate these sorts of data sets into our Schools Database, providing a more robust source of information about the public education system than you can find anywhere else.

It’s part of our renewed focus on providing databases that lets readers explore topics on their own.  At RocDocs.com, we’ll continue to offer deep collections of information on a variety of topics that affect people in our community.