WASHINGTON – For parents wanting to know how their school compares with others,come summer,that information will be just a click away.
A new Web site,launched at a news conference Thursday,features school,district and state data that can be accessed by parents,educators and policymakers. The information on the site is required to be publicly available by the No Child Left Behind Act.
“This is about giving people the tools to improve their schools,” said Tom Luce,National Center for Educational Accountability founder and chairman. “Data is not the end of a process. It's the beginning of a process to improve.”
Statistics are available now for six states – Virginia,Minnesota,Florida,Pennsylvania,Delaware and Washington. The data for all 50 states,Washington,D.C.,and Puerto Rico will be available by the summer.
The site is part of the School Information Partnership education initiative,which was announced by President Bush in September.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Broad Foundation are providing funding for the first two years of the site,$54 million,said Eli Broad,founder of the Broad Foundation. After that,the cost of updating the site should be less,and he said he hopes the states will help pay for it.
It includes information about student achievement and teacher credentials and allows users to compare their school with the state or country.
Virginia Gov. Mark Warner,D,said the state thought about doing similar research,but it was “wonderful when we found out someone else was going to come in and pay for it.”
Warner said he came to office without a background in education policies. But he said he has become a student of education policy,and this Web site is helpful because,before its launch,there was “lots of theory,but very little data.”
With the information on the site,“every school can succeed,” Warner said.
Secretary of Education Rod Paige noted that public schools will always be the “heavy-lifter” in education and the data should help them improve.
“I've never accepted the premise that the public school system as constructed now cannot compete,” Paige said.
“There's an appetite for this,” Luce said. “For example,say there's a teacher at a school in Virginia with a large Latino population. They can look at a school in San Antonio and see how it is achieving the results that count.”
The Web site is www.schoolresults.org.