We read Mr Dunn’s posts over the past weeks and months around the claim that CVUSD was the Number 1 school district in Ventura County. Upon initial research, we did not put a lot of weight on Zillow as a data source because the results seemed to be more formulaic rather than comprehensive. The data produced by Zillow could be accurate but it did not seem well constructed. In Figure 1, we see a search for ‘Ventura County School Districts” with a “sort by” set to “Great Schools Rating.” The data yielded information from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles County.
One reason we cannot simply extract the lower values ourselves and conclude that Oak Park is the winner for Ventura County is because we do not know the methodology of how this data was constructed. For some data sets, to extract a value is to rule the whole report void. The science of statistical analysis can be tricky in that way. So we cannot presume that eliminating one or two values would have no impact on which company would become or remain first in the data.
Another observation about the Zillow data, for example, was that certain districts were missing graduation rates and yet ranked very high on their lists. This would require more understanding from their data scientist.
While researching Mr. Dunn’s post, we came across Niche and their comprehensive data analysis using both publicly available data and cross referencing it with their own data collection. In addition, we called Niche Inc to further understand their data analysis and received information from their company directly to generally explain their methodology. We found their explanation credible.
While many people are aware of reports about high schools and colleges from U.S. News & World Report as well as Forbes and others, we have not found many free data sources for school district rankings that seemed as comprehensive as Niche, Inc.
UPDATE: (August 11) Zillow Screen shot added demonstrating inconclusive information. Information describing our findings with Zillow were also added.
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