Step 3 - RESEARCH: Page 1

Monday
Oct182010

Gathering Basic Info

This page covers:

  • Websites (and reviews of them) that parse & display comprehensive school information
  • Where to find specific Portland Public School data
  • Where to find insider comments on the web

Comprehensive School Searching Sites:  Any of these sites below might be your one-stop-shopping for school research.  They all more or less pull their information from the same publicly available data, which is largely only available for public schools.  After that it’ll come down to personal preference for features and design layout which work best for you.

  • Greatschools.org – This über monster of a school research site lets you save your schools in a free account and compare them side by side.  But know that their “GreatSchool” ratings are solely based on publicly available test scores, which means that comparing the public schools to private schools is nearly impossible.  And while the data they have on the (public) schools is rich, expect to spend some time clicking around for each school to get an overall picture.  Not all the information, such as number of students or grade levels, is accurate either – so go to the source (ie. the school itself) to get the real scoop. Greatschools is content rich and offers tons of solid advice – but since it covers the entire USA, much of it, while still pertinent, is very general. 
  • Publicschoolreview.com and Privateschoolreview.com are twin sites that offer variations on a theme of the same information you’ll find on other sites.  As their URLs state, each one covers either public or private schools, with privateschoolreview.com allowing the creation of a free account to keep track of schools you’re considering.  The same caveat applies to the accuracy of the private/independent school information. What makes these sites slightly different is that the information tends to be on a single page, so you can get the general picture without too much clicking around. Our favorite stand-out feature is that each school will have any recent videos linked on the right side of the page. This theoretically can give you insight into the school’s personality and reputation.  
  • Schooldigger.com – This site seems to be largely real estate driven and uses the same data as the other sites, which is to say, probably incomplete, especially for charter and private schools. Its mapping tool is great for those new to Portland. 
  • The Oregonian -  Oregon’s largest statewide newspaper also offers an interactive tool to compare the latest scores for the state’s public schools.  You can search by public school name to get a clean, simple snapshot of current and historic scores.  If you select the Portland (or other) school district you can get an easy-to-read snapshot of all the public school current scores (including most charters).  
  • Portland Monthly does an annual issue (hardcopy and online) that features schools, both public (for Portland and surrounding areas), as well as whichever private schools contribute their data. Like most other resources, the private school info is spotty and difficult to compare with public options – but the list will give you a snapshot of basic info.  Their online representation of the same data is all encompassing but requires some tenacity to stay focused and take in the details which don't easily fit on an oversized monitor. Explore their 2015 data here

Portland Public Schools Website

It’s incredibly easy to get lost in this behemoth of a site.  Filled with tons of information on the full gamut of Portland Public Schools (PPS) policies and programs, you’ll definitely want to spend some time clicking around.  Below we distilled the links on accessing the basic information for each school. See our Data Crunching page for tips on interpreting the info you’ll get from these pages:

  • List of Schools in the District  - lists each school with its PPS page in the left clickable column – along with a school created website, if they have one, in the right clickable column
  • Enrollment Profiles of each  PPS Schools - lists schools alphabetically. Click to get all the enrollment and profile data which tells you things about the student body such as percentages of racial background, free & reduced lunch, how many kids transfer to other PPS schools, how many transfer in, test scores, teacher qualification stats, and more.  This page is also accessible from each school’s own PPS page (see above)
  • Test Assessment Results for each PPS School  -  At this page, select the school you’re researching from the pop-up menu and then keep drilling down to each question to get a little chart which should give you an indication of how students perform on standardized tests, whether they’re improving, how they compare, etc.  A lot of clicks to go through, but the statistically inclined will appreciate the data.  This page is also accessible at each school’s PPS page
  • Annual Report Cards from ODE - Select Portland from the District pull down menu to drill down for the Oregon Department of Education's annual report for each public school.  You might find these simplified pdfs easier to read than other versions of the data crunching.

 

 

Gathering and organizing the basic information on school options should keep you busy for a while. It’s worth any effort to keep organized in your search – whether it’s a bookmarks folder, or creating a GreatSchools free account – it’ll make your life easier as you narrow down your choices.

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