Many parents think that school rankings are the definitive indicator of a good school. However, Suburban Jungle believes that school rankings are not everything. Here’s why.
It’s something we hear every day as we help clients navigate suburbia: every parent wants “good schools” and we get it. We want it, too. And that drives parents to pour over suburban school rankings.
Since we launched we’ve always reminded parents that “good” isn’t a one-size-fits-all descriptor. You may think a good school is synonymous with a BIG school that offers tons of AP classes and dozens of sports and clubs. Or, to you, “good” may mean a small school with lots of individualized attention and less competition for coveted teams, classes and experiences. It all depends on your family, your expectations and your child. Therefore, “good school” is truly such a subjective term.
But that’s just a piece of the puzzle. Now more than ever we’re, again, seeing parents elbow-deep in suburban school rankings, reports and reviews, hoping to nail down what, definitively, is the ‘best” school in the ‘burbs. Again, it makes sense. With the boom in rankings and reviews spanning sources like U.S. News & World Report, Niche, GreatSchools, SchoolDigger and more, it’s impossible to ignore the constant barrage of who’s who, what’s what and, ultimately, which schools come out on top.
But you have to. You have to cut through the clutter and find the right school for your family. Because suburban school rankings don’t tell the whole story. In a recent incident where a highly-regarded private school did not make a certain list. In investigating, the school identified that many of these lists are for-profit and many leverage questionable data collection and analysis to determine which schools make the cut. Not only that, but the actual address was incorrect, prompting a complete breach of the data integrity as the list pulls data points from specific regions to determine these rankings. The end result? Rankings that are very loosely directional at best and, at worst, completely inaccurate. As the good old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out…
That doesn’t mean you should ignore suburban school rankings and reviews. Some provide great, authentic feedback from parents and teachers, which can help paint a picture of a particular school or district. BUT yet again you have to understand which parents are leaving these review…and which ones are keeping quiet. Others share comprehensive test scores—if that’s important to you and your family, then having that access can be a huge plus. But to scan a list and, from that, pick a suburb likely isn’t your best bet. Because choosing where to call home is so much bigger than a spot—or lack of a spot—on a top 10 list. It’s the schools, it’s the community, it’s your lifestyle—and it’s everything in between.
The reason why Suburban Jungle was created was to help families understand the true personalities of the towns, which is a reflection of both the public and private schools that families choose to attend in those towns! There is nothing that compares to have a truly objective advisory, rather than burying your eyeballs into data points that may or may not matter…
So before you anchor your family’s future in where a school did or didn’t fall on the latest suburban school ranking, do your homework. Work with our Suburbs Strategists to determine what a community and a school is really like. Explore towns. Bring your kids and see what they respond to. That’s how you find the right suburb for your family.
To figure out which town truly fits your family, click here and get your complimentary suburbs strategy session.