As we near the beginning of the school year, I know many parents are still searching for the perfect school to send their child.

There are nearly 2,000 public schools in Arizona, and our open enrollment laws provide parents with a choice. But, there are a lot of choices out there: charter, district, online, back-to-basics, college prep, the list goes on. So how do you know what school will be the best choice for your child?

A great place to start is the Education Evaluator, a map that provides an easy, transparent way to view and compare all of Arizona’s public schools — charter and district.

The map is the first of its kind in Arizona. We compiled information from many reports and put it into one easy-to-understand location, www.azcharters.org/maps. You can start your search by listing a ZIP code, city, school name or search for all “A” schools.

It provides basic information about every public school, including number of students, academic ratings, grades served and per pupil funding.

Think of it as a report card.

The Education Evaluator shows you how well the school is academically growing students from year to year, which we call median growth percentiles. Median growth percentiles show you if a school has high, typical or low student growth. Comparing student scores ensures results are not skewed by income levels, parental involvement, race or gender. It also has each school’s letter grade, provided by the Arizona Department of Education.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to the parameters that are important to your family, click on the school location. The map will provide you with school addresses, phone numbers and websites. From there, it’s time to visit the school, meet its teachers and leaders, and decide if the school focus and campus culture will allow your child to flourish.

The Education Evaluator is a culmination of years of work, which we believe is the first step in making an informed decision about where to send your child.

Now you’re ready to start searching. Get started at azcharters.org/maps.

• Eileen Sigmund is president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

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