Warning: School Rankings Just Went Whacko!

schoolMany parents or “to be” parents use School Rankings as part of their Home Search Process, and I generally support that wholeheartedly. BUT something is amiss!

I don’t know what just happened. Possibly a new set of test scores just came out? The lineup of schools on most School Rating sites just shifted, and the results are staggeringly “off”. One is always forewarned about using these sites as indicators of a school’s net worth, or an indication that your child will get a better education. But usually they follow the sequence from high to low that blends with the overall frame work of areas and home prices and long term supports for what I call “the lineup” of “Best Schools”.

But for some reason, one of the long term lowest ranked schools just jumped up to highest. Usually the top 1 to 5 schools stay in “a pack” and move around. One year one is “the top school” and then it moves to 2nd place. 3rd can jump to first…and so on.

The 10th ranked school RARELY jumps from tenth to first overnight! I’ve never seen that happen before, and I am seeing it happen today. It could have happened in the last week or so. I don’t check them every day.

Be forewarned…something is amiss. I can’t put my finger on exactly what caused this recent change, and it is fairly overall across different schools and different ranking sites. Just be forewarned that if these sites were ever reliable and/or you have considered them to be so, and I generally have over the years, there is something rotten in Denmark at the moment.

I strongly suggest you not use them in your home search process until we can figure out what the heck just happened.

16 thoughts on “Warning: School Rankings Just Went Whacko!

    • I generally use GreatSchools.org which is the same site whose rankings appear on listings in the Redfin view. I double checked it against SchoolDigger.com

      These sites are often used to convey information we know to be accurate, vs to “find” the information. So when they go a bit sideways it’s easy to notice and deserves a shout out.

      While information should always be double checked against other sources, that is particularly true at the moment.

  1. Hi Ardell,

    Do you think we can still trust these ratings? And have you figured out “we can figure out what the heck just happened.”?

    One example. I heard Blackwell was one of the best. But it seems that its ranking has dropped really fast in the last a couple of years. What has happened?


        • I don’t use School Digger that way, as people do not equally consider Sammamish or Wedgwood 🙂 The “top 10” of such a broad area is inconsequential. There are many that have “the top” rating…many more than 10 schools. So using it in that manner doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are many #1 schools that are equal…more than 10.

          As I explained to clients recently, these rankings are not 100% accurate in any given year. There was a school never known to be a “good” school for years that jumped up to a top ranking all of a sudden. You have to take that with a grain of salt. Which applies…the years of not good or the one weird blip UP? It quickly went back down. The oddity wasn’t that it went down…but that it was up…briefly.

          You have to know the general reputation of a school in addition to it’s ranking, along with a myriad of other factors. That said, ranking IS very important…you just have to understand a little more about the school and the area, then merely boiling it down to a number or a short term odd result. Often that has to do with a change in a School Board Policy. So you can’t look at school info in a vacuum. You have to consider all of the contributing factors.

          It’s like trying to compare the value of a house in West Seattle to one in Medina. Makes no sense. Neither does it make sense to compare two elementary schools in each of those locations. You have to do comparisons within the District…and then District to District. Not a school in one District to a school in another, especially on the Elementary School Level. High School…yes, you can do that. But not at the Elementary School Level.

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