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Insideschools expands parent-friendly data tool to elementary schools

Insideschools, the online guide to New York City schools, wants to help the Department of Education’s new leadership as it considers how to modify or replace the Bloomberg administration’s school accountability system.

The website today expanded its two-year-old “Insidestats” data tool to include elementary schools, saying that the consumer-oriented presentation of public data about schools offers “an alternative to the city’s controversial A-F system for grading elementary schools.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said before he was elected that he would do away with the annual letter grades, but neither he nor Chancellor Carmen Fariña has said how schools should be evaluated instead.

Insidestats provides a suggestion. From a press release put out by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, where Insideschools is housed:

Rather than ranking schools or giving them letter grades, Insidestats gives the answers to questions parents ask most: Do most parents and teachers recommend the school? Is it welcoming? Is bullying a problem? How many students are in a kindergarten class? Is the atmosphere calm or rowdy? How do children do on standardized tests? How is attendance?

The data tool was born from the belief that the Bloomberg administration’s progress reports were both too complex for families to use meaningfully when choosing schools and too blunt a tool for evaluating school quality.

“Insidestats offers some of the benefits of an accountability system without the drawbacks,” Andrew White, the center’s director, said in a statement.

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