Web Site Help Parents Navigate Public School Choice

NBC 5 News

These days, you can find just about anything on the Internet, including clothes and music. But you can also find school supplies.

That's what Jaleesa Ashley is doing as she, like many first-time parents, is looking for the best possible education for her 3-year-old son, Jaesaun.

“He sings his ABCs, he knows how to count to 10. He's very, very smart,” said Ashley.

Jaesaun will start Pre-K in Hartford next fall and finding the perfect school for him was as easy as surfing the Web, thanks to a new site called Smartchoiceshartford.org

All you need to do is type in your physical address. Within seconds, you have all the information you need at your fingertips. Parents can compare schools in the greater Hartford area by distance, demographics and test scores. 

“I don't want him going to a school where the test gains are negative, the test scores are negative,” Ashley said.

From test scores to curriculum, Jalessa says there is a lot she needed to consider when choosing the right school for her child. 

And to help make Jaleesa's job easier, Smartchoices uses an interactive map-based Web site that is a collaboration of three academic and non-profit organizations: Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Trinity College and Achieve Hartford. 

Jim Starr, the executive director of Achieve Hartford, says this technology is now helping to close the achievement gap and give every parent the same advantage.

“It’s difficult, particularly in Hartford. A lot of single parents, high poverty level and things that can make them feel easier and make their life easier to go through a process that's just as important to them as healthcare,” said Starr.

“You don't want to have your son just going to any school just for convenience,” added Ashley.

There are two deadlines for parents to submit their applications. For regional school choice, the deadline has been extended to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Feb.11th.

For schools within Hartford, it is March 30.

Call 860-757-6188 for more details.

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