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New Database Helps NYC Families Pick a Public High School

By  Elizabeth Barber and Julie  Shapiro | March 12, 2013 6:38pm 

 Insideschools has a new database of information to help families pick a school.
Insideschools has a new database of information to help families pick a school.
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NEW YORK — Families trying to choose among the city's 422 public high schools now have a new tool at their disposal.

An online database called Insidestats launched Tuesday, aiming to provide an alternative to the Department of Education's A-through-F rankings of public schools, which some critics have said oversimplifies the differences between schools.

Insidestats, run by the website Insideschools, offers detailed information about each public high school, including class size, graduation rate, safety, the curriculum and student satisfaction, according to Insideschools.

"With Insidestats, we hope to offer a more nuanced picture, because different schools are good at different things," Clara Hemphill, founder of Insideschools, said in a statement.

"Some schools take high-achieving kids and push them to ever greater heights. But others do a particularly good job with kids who need special education or English as a second language. Insidestats shows you the difference."

Challenging the idea that schools can be evaluated on a one-size-fits-all basis, the database identifies schools as good fits for some students and poor matches for others, Hemphill added.

For example, while The Bronx High School of Science has an A grade from the Department of Education, Insidestats supplies information on the school’s larger-than-average class sizes as well as the absence of English as a second language and special education classes, Insideschools said.