What Criteria Are Used in School Ratings?

Schools of all levels are assessed and rated according to a number of factors. People often use these ratings to rank the schools in order to determine which ones are the best choice for students. The article that follows describes some common criteria that are used in school ratings.

Reasons for School Ratings

Rankings exist at every academic level and continue to become more and more thorough, expanding past basic academic matters and analyzing factors such as campus buildings and student organizations. These rankings are an invaluable tool for both parents and students seeking the right academic setting. They compile information that might normally be hard to find and provide a convenient comparison between the various institutions being considered.

Important Facts About School Ratings

Academic Considerations Average class size, student:teacher ratio, faculty, programs offered
Admissions Considerations Percentage of applicants admitted, tuition costs, financial aid
Extracurricular Considerations Dining halls, sports teams, dormitories, campus clubs/activities
Other Ranking Categories Best global universities, best online programs

School Ratings Criteria

The criteria used to rate schools vary depending on the schools' grade levels and the group determining the ratings. For kindergarten through 12th grade, PSK12.com rates schools based on the percentages of students in certain grades who pass standardized tests in reading, writing and mathematics. Some features of this site require a paid subscription. U.S. News and World Report, www.usnews.com, bases its college ratings on a number of factors, including the schools' faculty resources, admissions criteria and graduate performance.

Kindergarten Through 12th Grade School Ratings Criteria

The recently-enacted 'Race to the Top' legislation emphasizes the importance of preparing students for college and careers. It aims to make it easier for state governments and independent groups to rate schools, and to reward teachers and schools based on their performance. Each state has its own tests that focus on subjects such as reading, writing and mathematics. Students must pass these tests in order to graduate. State governments and independent groups use the percentages of students who pass the tests to determine school ratings.

School Ratings Criteria for Colleges

The school rating process for colleges is more complex and subjective than it is for elementary and high schools. Groups that rate colleges often give high ratings to schools that have lofty admissions standards, because these schools typically have more rigorous academic programs. Ratings are also affected by the perceived strength of the schools' faculty and the resources that are available to students. Many school rating systems also track graduates' achievement levels after college. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report breaks the rankings down by field of study. This way, prospective students can choose from schools that are perceived to be leaders in engineering, law, medicine or other fields of interest.

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