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Looking for the best school for your child? We can help

First published in 2005, the Rochester Business Journal Schools Report Card always has been one of our biggest annual projects. In its first two years, the publication focused solely on Monroe County. By the third year, we’d expanded the scope to include a separate version for schools in Ontario County. Then three years ago, we collected all the information in a combined report card for Monroe and Ontario counties.
 
The original intent remains, however. We want to provide readers-many of whom have school-age children-with key information on public and private schools in each county. And we also want to do so through an approach that stays clear of subjective analysis.
 
Each year since the beginning we’ve introduced this publication with a list of frequently asked questions about the Schools Report Card. We think it’s the best way to help you understand how and why we compile and present this information as we do.
 
Do you rank the schools by student performance or other measures?
 
As noted above, we keep subjectivity out of the equation. This has been our approach since the beginning. We closely considered the idea of creating a weighted system of ranking the schools based on a mix of test scores and diploma rates. We decided against that approach, however. We knew rankings would appeal to some people and probably generate headlines. But we decided that any rating formula would be arbitrary and might result in unfair qualitative assessments.
 
With mountains of data available, of course, we must make certain judgment calls-for example, which test scores to include and whether public and private schools should be listed separately or together.
 
The wealth of data found in these pages allows you to make a range of comparisons among districts and schools. Then, you can draw your own conclusions about how much weight to give each measure of academic performance or cost-effectiveness.
 
Where do you get the test-result data?
 
The source of most of the data is the state Education Department, which gives schools the opportunity to review the information before it is released publicly. We use the most recently available numbers. For some tests, results were provided by individual schools. The data in this edition are for the 2011-12 school year and were released this spring. All percentages are rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.
 
On the Grading the Public and Private Schools pages, why do some schools have no test results?
 
Some schools are listed in a particular category but do not administer tests common to most of the schools in that category.
 
Even with all the data you provide on the schools, it’s still not clear to us which district would be best for our kids.
 
Since each child has different needs, parents must weigh numerous factors in making choices among school districts or between public and private education. There’s everything from special education offerings to sports and music programs-and much more. And as we all know, tax rates matter too. There’s no sure-fire formula that will provide a clear answer. But we think that by putting in your hands a wealth of important information on the schools in Monroe and Ontario counties, we can help you reach a decision.
 
I’ve never seen a photo from my child’s school in the Schools Report Card. Why?
 
For each edition, we try to include a range of public and private schools representing various grades. We try to focus on schools our photographer has not visited before. This year, we’ve also included some photos taken by students at local schools. If you would like your school to be considered for a photo shoot next year, or would like to submit images taken by student photographers, email Special Projects Editor Sally Parker at [email protected]
 
I think I found a mistake in the data. Whom should I contact?
 
We try very hard to keep the Schools Report Card error-free, but with the volume of data contained in this supplement, mistakes sometimes occur. If you think you found erroneous information, please contact Research Director Andrew Green by phone at (585) 546-8303 or by email at [email protected]
 
Finally, as I say with each edition, please send us any ideas for improving this special supplement next year.

  -Paul Ericson, editor

7/12/13 Schools Report Card (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]

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