New Ways To Find Out About Schools

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

With just a few strokes on a keyboard, you can find just about anything you need know about Virginia schools and how they stack up to schools in other states.

According to Virginia has a higher percent of adults with high school and college diplomas than the national average.
The site also shows the percent of new money spent mostly on improving instruction. That statistic is also comparable to other states.

"You can know if you state is doing what they should be doing and you can therefore lobby your elected officials and it also allows you to know if you are looking for a place to move if a state as you re-locate is going to meet the needs of your family," said Bekah Saxon, President of the Charlottesville Education Association.

The website has endless statistics ranging from per-student spending, community demographics, and student-to-teacher ratios. But experts advise researchers not to draw immediate conclusions from the data.

"People may look at the data and not know the context in which it was created. Any data can be taken in any number of ways to be used in any number of purposes," said Saxon.

For example, the information cites the number of elementary school teachers dropped by almost 20,000 in one year.

The actual reasons are that more students are moving towards high school and secondary school is now defined as seventh through twelfth, and no longer includes 5th and 6th grade.

"Some affect from No Child Left Behind, which caused more High School teachers to need to be hired because they needed to be specially certified in each area that they taught," said Saxon.

Experts say when used correctly, parents, school officials, and legislators can research the Commonwealth 24-hours a day.

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