When looking to buy a home, families often consider the school district as one of their top priorities. While selecting the school that meets the appropriate criteria for your child or children, research is key.
According to Joe Houlihan, managing partner of Houlihan & O’Malley Real Estate Services in Bronxville, checking out schools both in person and online is incredibly important in making sure that a school fits your checklist, especially when moving to a new city or town.
“While you’ll want to tour the schools you are interested in, and interview faculty, administrators, and parents, there are also some very helpful online resources to give you a head start on your search for the school district that will best meet the needs of your family,” he says.
Here are 7 databases Houlihan recommends to help you with your search:
“Neighborhood Navigator:” http://www.houlihanomalley.com/community
Hailing from Houhlihan’s own website, the “Neighborhood Navigator” online tool helps families by sharing information on public, private, and parochial schools in their desired areas. The tool lists information ranging from school ratings and reviews to enrollment statistics. It also pulls data from Regents examination test scores, college-bound student percentages, and student to teacher ratios.
National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects and analyzes data related to education nationwide. The government website offers annual reports, publications, surveys and data systems that can help assist you in finding the right school district for your needs.
National Center for Education Statistics “School District Demographic System,” http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sdds/index.aspx
If you want a shortcut on the NCES website to view district profiles and snapshot reports, the “School District Demographic System” is the link for you. Under this database, you can find sub-links to resources like the U.S. Census Bureau’s Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates Program (EDGE), which provides demographic information for the country’s school districts and schools; MapEd, which allows users to swiftly explore geographic information at local and national levels; and School Attendance Boundary Survey (SABS), which “provides a national attendance geographic boundary dataset.”
School Digger, http://www.schooldigger.com/
Founded in 2006, SchoolDigger.com is a free database that holds information on over 136,000 schools around the country. Available material on these schools includes test scores, enrollment figures, real estate, and crime statistics. Additionally, the website allows you to search through schools utilizing categories like “Best 10 Schools,” “Worst 10 Schools,” and “Most Improved.”
Similar to SchoolDigger.com, GreatSchools is a nonprofit online database that holds information on more than 200,000 schools for Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. The website has devised its own rating system, entitled “GreatSchools Rating,” to help parents compare schools with information such as student development and college preparedness. Furthermore, the database includes community reviews and a “GreatSchools Local” program to give parents an even closer in-depth look at schools and school districts.
Niche K-12, https://k12.niche.com/
Niche, formerly known as CollegeProwler.com, was founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon students to provide parents and students with information on over 100,000 schools. Niche K-12 specifically carries content on more than 120,000 elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. The goal of this database is to provide official data and personal reviews on schools and school districts nationwide.
City-Data has been featured on CNN, featured in 121 books, and receives millions of visitors every month. Beyond schools, it provides data on assessments, restaurants, sex offenders, and forums with archived and active discussions—including a thread dedicated to Westchester.