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GreatSchools Ratings: Issues to Consider

GreatSchools Ratings provide a quick snapshot of how students at a school performed on state tests.

By GreatSchools Staff

GreatSchools has devised a quick and easy way to compare schools within a state based on test results. You can see how schools rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

What the Ratings Mean

GreatSchools Ratings provide a quick overview of how students in a school performed on their state's standardized test(s) in a particular year. They can be used to compare schools in a particular state. They can't be used to compare schools in different states because states use different standardized tests.

Overall ratings for the school as well as ratings for grade levels and subgroups of students (where available) are displayed. The ratings are calculated on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest. A "10" means that the group is in the top 10% for test scores when compared to students in the same group statewide. A "1" means that the group is in the bottom 10%.

The Grade-Level Ratings shown are the grades in which the test is given. The different student categories are identified by the state Department of Education. If there are a very small number of students in a particular group in a school (usually fewer than 10), the state doesn't report test results for that group, so no rating is given.

The ratings for grade levels and categories of students compare the performance of those groups with all students across the state. So for example, if a school has a rating of 10 for English language learners, it means that English language learners at this school are in the top 10% for test results when compared with all students in the state.

You can use the By Category Ratings to compare student groups at the school. For example, if one category receives a rating of 3 and another category receives a rating of 7, this suggests that an achievement gap exists between these categories of students at this school.

Ratings are also calculated for districts and cities. These ratings are calculated by averaging the Overall Ratings, weighted by school enrollment, for all the schools in the district or city. Weighting each school's Overall Ratings means that schools with more students count more than schools with fewer students. Weighting makes the District and City Ratings more representative of the performance of the entire student population.

How the Ratings Are Calculated

GreatSchools Ratings are based on results from the main standardized test(s) in the state. Typically that will be one test that covers elementary, middle and high schools. In some states where there is a test for elementary and middle schools, and a separate test for high schools, both tests are used. You can find out which tests are used in your state by clicking on "More About GreatSchools Ratings" on the Ratings page on your school profile.

GreatSchools uses one year of test score data (the most current available) to calculate the ratings. To see trend data, click on the Test Scores tab on the school profile.