Identifying Informative School Resources for the Real Estate Industry
Before getting married, having kids and jumping on the real estate band wagon, I was once a first and second grade teacher. For 5 years, providing a challenging program with options for all learning styles (oh, and making it fun) was my goal. I woke up every morning excited to share new learning experiences with my students. I lived and breathed education as I know many dedicated teachers who spend countless extra hours prepping and planning do. And now being a parent of 2 toddlers, I look forward to sharing those trials and tribulations of homework, projects, field trips and of course, first days with them. But the whole process of selecting a school for your child can be confusing and scary, and also give you a big fat headache!
Because many of my realtor clients know my background is in education, I am frequently asked about a particular school, district, and of course….THE SCORES! Let’s face it; when it comes to real estate, buyers with school-age children want homes in nice neighborhoods with great schools. We all want the best for our kids. But how do you really know that the school is “great” and what is really best for our kids? Taking school scores into consideration is definitely one way to go. Most states have websites you can visit to get the latest school scores for a particular school, district, county, etc. The scores can be great indicators of how well a school is performing, as well as the progress a school is making from year to year.
In California, we give a group of tests known as the “STAR” tests which give way to an overall school score number on the API (Academic Performance Index). If a school scores 800 or above on the API it not only meets the state target, but the school becomes desirable for parents. A score of 900 or better, and parents start camping out front before open enrollment. The problem I run into with providing parents and clients with only the school scores is that often they don’t understand how to read and interpret them, and scores are really only one piece of the puzzle.
School districts are usually required to provide a district report card to inform parents and the community about their academic performance. However these brochures differ widely from district to district, sometimes only providing a glimpse of what parents are interested in. Fortunately, the Internet offers plenty of websites that provide in-depth school profiles. School profiles provided by websites like http://www.greatschools.net, http://www.schoolmatters.com. and http://www.schoolwisepress.com, offer reports with detailed information about teachers and students, class size, socioeconomic factors, as well as academic performance scores and student proficiency in various academic areas. I can’t tell parents enough to examine all the facets of a school’s environment and program before making a choice for their child. Not all children learn the same way and schools vary in their strengths and weaknesses so the best approach is get all the info you can and then visit the schools you are interested in. In School Scores & More (Part 2) I will provide a deeper analysis of online school profiles, discuss buyer anxiety about schools, as well as offer tips for visiting schools.