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updated: 10/31/2013 7:31 PM

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Where are the public schools better -- in the city or in the suburbs?

It's one of the questions you can explore with the Daily Herald School Checker. Pick a suburb, any suburb, and pull up the school test results. Then pick Chicago and pull up the school test results for it.

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What you find may just surprise you.

That's only one of the things you can do with the Daily Herald School Checker at http://reportcards.dailyherald.com.

But you can do a lot more too. In addition to test scores, the research tool has detailed demographics of every school and school district in Illinois, including percentages of low income students, homeless students and college readiness. We present every district's budget details and have contact information for every school and district.

You can find any public school in the suburbs or Illinois and compare them with other schools in their town, district or county. You can also compare every suburban school in the six-county metropolitan area.

And you can do the same kind of comparisons by school district.

We dive deeper into the state report card data than ever before with ISAT, PSAE and ACT results going back several years for schools, districts and the state. The schools with ISAT, PSAE and ACT scores come in sortable lists so you can compare your school's results in a variety of ways.

The superintendent says your school system is getting better. Well, is it?

More than ever, you have a chance to assess whether that is true.

The innovative new Daily Herald School Checker new research tool helps you easily make sense out of the Illinois School Report Card data.

The tool was developed by staffers Tim Broderick and Mark Stallings. It was designed to be easy to use, and we hope you'll try it at reportcards.dailyherald.com. And we aim to keep improving it, so if you have suggestions, please send them to Tim at tbroderick@dailyherald.com.

As always, thanks for reading.

John Lampinen

Editor

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