New website to help parents find 'Great Philly Schools'

Posted: October 17, 2012

LUCIANA BOONE is a parent of a freshman at Philadelphia High School for Girls and an eighth-grader at KIPP West Philadelphia Charter School.

Like most parents, she is concerned about the quality of the education her kids receive and, ultimately, how to find the right school for them.

"Two years ago, when I was looking, for my daughter, I had to go to multiple sites and get information from a lot of different places to create my own spreadsheet, so I could compare," said Boone, a member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, an organization supporting parental-choice policies and programs.

Those issues were addressed Monday as Mayor Nutter and the Philadelphia School Partnership launched, a website with objective data from just about every school in the city, including public, charter, Catholic and private.

"This is all about equipping families with the information to ask the right questions, make the best decisions and demand the best schools for their children," said Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP.

GPS aims to be the one-stop shop for Philadelphia families to choose a school from the more than 400 K-12 options. The site rates each school on a 1-to-10 scale across five categories - academics, safety, student attendance, achievement gap and college preparedness. An overall grade is derived from a combination of the school's scores.

Users can search by neighborhood, overall quality and school type or grade level. The site includes a profile of each school, including photos, accreditations, admissions policy and special programs such as music, arts or sports. A series of brief articles is also available that explains differences between private and public schools, discusses enrollment processes and offers a checklist for parents planning to visit a school.

"Our responsibility is to create a network of great schools all across the [city] and to provide to them as many quality educational options as we can," Nutter said. "The parent will ultimately decide where they want their children to go to, and our job is to support them."

The program began two years ago after the Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative found that 42 percent of parents with school-age children said that they found it hard to obtain enough information about schools.

A print guide will be available early next year.

Contact Andrew Eiser at 215-854-2513 or Follow him on Twitter @andrew_eiser.

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