Cleveland has become the first city in the US to have a website listing all of its schools, both traditional public and charter, that are within the city limits. Also listed are specifics about grades served, graduation rates, and state report cards.
It also includes a pop-up map of where each school is. Many of the schools also provide their own description of what the school has to offer students. The idea is to help parents and caregivers navigate their way through an overwhelming number of schools and choose which is best for their child.
According to clevelandta.org, the official website of Cleveland’s school listings, the Cleveland Educational Plan, “assesses the quality of all district and charter schools in Cleveland, communicates to parents about quality school choices, ensures fidelity to the citywide education plan, and monitors charter sector quality and growth.” Cleveland is clearly making an effort to inform parents of their child’s educational options.
“‘Many parents are not aware of the multitude of choices that they have,” said Megan O’Bryan, the Transformation Alliance’s executive director. “All of the choices have not been presented in one place, so we are the entity that’s going to provide any parent in Cleveland with all of their options.’”
There are, however, some drawbacks to the website, states Patrick O’Donnell. It does not include Cleveland’s suburban schools, nor does it include private schools. City officials hope to change that soon.
Also, not all of the city’s charter schools have given material about their school yet. Some are waiting to see how the website is received by the public before making that move.
Despite this recent achievement for Cleveland, there are still some issues about the educational system that need addressed. One such issue is the involvement of parents in their child’s education by meeting with teachers, according to O’Donnell. State law mandates that a parent meet once with their child’s teacher before December. However, there are no consequences for not doing so.
According to the most recent report, only 63% of students had parent teacher conferences for the first time this year. These conferences are important because they outline how the child is doing in school, grades, and could focus on behavioral problems at school.
Another problem is that it is not always noted by teachers is whether parents attend. Teachers and school officials are supposed to make a notation if a parent does or does not come in, but it does not always happen. 6,600 students did not receive any notation — 17% of the Cleveland student body.
The school district understands that many parents work and are unable to attend parent-teacher conferences during the limited hours available. To combat this problem, the district is expanding the hours that teachers are available to talk to parents and even opening the school for a whole day so the parent can have a 20-minute conversation with the child’s instructor.