LA parent voice: What matters most in the search for a good school

For parents, finding a good school for their children can be exhausting, especially as they search for the right tools and resources to compare schools’ performance.

One tool available to California parents since last spring is the new California School Dashboard website, the state’s official new system to measure public schools’ performance. It includes progress on test scores, suspension and graduation rates, English learners’ progress toward fluency, and high school students’ college and career readiness. Some parents and advocates have criticized the dashboard for not using a single score to rate schools. Instead, it uses a color-coded rating, with red the lowest rating and blue the highest.

Mayra Azanza, a Los Angeles mother of a fourth-grade daughter and a son in preschool, has been looking for a new school for her children as the family is moving to Palo Alto. She said the process has taken months, and she didn’t use the dashboard because she wasn’t familiar with it. She’s not alone.

A statewide poll released last week of 2,500 registered voters in the state, including 595 parents, revealed that nearly half (46 percent) of the parents who responded said they have not yet visited the dashboard’s website.

But the poll found that 66 percent of parents are familiar with it, and of those, 72 percent said they had a positive impression of it, while 9 percent had a negative impression. But when they were shown a slide of the dashboard, those with negative impressions nearly doubled, to 15 percent.

Azanza said finding the best schools for her kids was a challenging task because she wanted to find a good public school, without having to consider private schools, religious schools, or charters. She did consider magnet schools. Click here to read more: