Searching For Schools Online – How to Evaluate a School District Before You Move

Any concerned parent knows that the quality of the school their child attends will have a big impact on their future. If you’re in the process of moving and have children, you may be concerned about the quality of education that your child will receive in their new home town. Before you settle down new roots, you can figure out the lay of the educational landscape in a few different ways.

One of the best resources if you’d like to get a bird’s eye view of the schools in an area is School Performance Maps at schoolperformancemaps.com. This resource lists information on school districts in California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Maryland. Other states are to follow as the system becomes more developed. By clicking on the interactive map and zooming into the area you’ll see different schools and their ratings (based on 1 through 10 scale). They appear as color coded dots on the map. You can click on each dot to get a reading from the last three years for each school. The school listings can be categorized by elementary school, middle school and high school.

If you want to get an in depth view of a potential school, you can try out Great Schools at greatschools.com. This free, interactive community allows parents, educators and students leave comments about the schools in a city. Great Schools has its own independent rating system of 1 through 10, based on community feedback. A school gets an overall rating of one through ten, but there are also individual ratings based on grade levels and other special consideration. On the main profile page of each school, you can view parent reviews, see recent test scores and learn about the school environment. Take the overall scores with a grain of salt since they are based on parent’s reviews. One parent with a bad experience for their child can pull down the whole score. Be sure to read the parent reviews in detail rather than just looking at the number score.

Connecting with other parents may be hard when you live hundreds of miles away from your new home, but there are a few online outlets where you can ask specific questions to residents. Yahoo Answers at answers.yahoo.com allows you to ask questions on any topic imaginable, including the school district your children will be entering. You can ask about recommended schools, get feedback from parents and even hear from some older students in the district, depending on who is answering the question.

City Data Forums (city-data.com/forum) are full of local residents and people who are looking to move. You can navigate to the part of the forum related to your new home town and ask about schools. In most cases, you’ll get a detailed answer to your question from residents of the area.

These resources will help you understand the lay of the educational landscape before you pack up and move to town. Since school district lines can make a big difference on your choice of residence, it makes sense to do this kind of investigation before you move.