- Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles based on information provided by the state of Illinois’ IllinoisReportCard.com, a new online school report card that goes beyond test scores to present a complete view of our public schools.
“Best” is a beauty of a word, truly seen the eye of the beholder. And when it comes to schools, school districts and education, determining what’s “best” for yourself or for your children or for your favorite niece, nephew or grandchild isn’t something you can find on a webpage or in a report.
With that said, we are vitally interested in our children’s education. We are engaged and invested in their outcomes and want to know how our schools stack up to others in our area and throughout the state.
One of the more popular stories on Kane County Connects are the Niche rankings of the “best” schools in Illinois or the Chicago region. But there are other, arguably more detailed and reliable, ways to evaluate and compare schools.
The recently-released, student report cards for Illinois are now available online. Here are three excellent sources to find out more information:
This article is the first in a series taking a closer look at the results of the IllinoisReportCard.com site. We start out with some simple advice about how to navigate the site and find information that’s relevant to you and your school or school district in Kane County.
How To Find Your School
An important side note is that the website search is imperfect. Typing “St. Charles” under “Find School or District By Name,” for example, does not return any results. Nor does “St. Charles” or “Saint Charles.” The secret is to avoid the period. “St charles” will get you the drop-down choices for St. Charles schools.
In that content field, you can also type “CUSD 303,” then find the high school under the “Schools in District” tab at the top of the page.
Another method is to use the “Find using Address, City or ZIP” field. In a search for St. Charles high schools, for example, you would type “St. Charles” or the “60174” zip code, then find a link to the high school of your choice: St. Charles North or St. Charles East.
How to Compare Your School
One good way to compare your school’s results to others in your area is to simply search for a school of interest and compare the “Fast Facts.” I like that method the best because I can see the “Fast Fact” results without having to hunt for the information.
A more sophisticated method is to click on the blue “Compare Schools” button on the top right part of your school’s webpage. The hard part about that is that you are asked to select from 3,764 schools anywhere in Illinois serving all grades. So what you want to do is narrow the search.
By clicking on the blue button that says “Search By,” you can select up to four schools you’d like to compare. You type in the school name, then hit “apply,” and when the school name pops into the screen, you must be sure to check the box next to the school name so that it saves the school on your list of comparisons. The process sounds difficult, and it probably is harder than it should be, but you’ll figure it out once you dive in.
After you’ve selected your schools for comparison, a green “Compare” button will pop up. Click that, and you’ll get a comparison page.
Here’s the comparison I did, starting with St. Charles North High School and searching for comparisons to Geneva Community High School, Batavia Senior High School and St. Charles East High School. This is just the top of the “Compare School Result” page:
To be honest, those three items in the turquoise, mauve and yellow circles — enrollment, attendance rate and class size — might not be the most interesting for comparison.
That said, you can find more information by clicking the “Academic Progress” and “School Environment” tabs.
Academic Progress allows you to compare the schools’ graduation rates, the percent of students that are “college ready,” and the percent of freshmen students that are “on track.”
“School Environment” gives you some financial comparisons, including percentages of local, state and national funding, total revenue, how much is spent per student per year for instruction and how much is “operational spending.”
- UP NEXT: In Part 2 of the series, we’ll provide the “Fast Facts” comparison of Kane County high schools.
Read More From the Illinois State Board of Education
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- Nearly half of Illinois high school graduates enrolled in state community colleges require remediation