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In the years that we've rated Cleveland's suburbs, we've evaluated three major factors: safety, education and housing. We've added others such as public services, diversity and a lack of environmental infractions that make a suburb "desirable." Our standards are limited, to a degree, by what is quantifiable.
Scores are assigned to each suburb for every category used in the rankings. Those scores are based on this year's available numbers for all of the communities. We then add up the category scores, weighting certain categories more than others. Safety and education, for example, are given more weight than property tax, which is given more weight than environmental infractions.
The top 15 are those suburbs with the highest combined scores in other words, the suburbs that perform best in all of the categories combined.
Is there anything new this year?
Yes. There have been two slight changes in the way we calculate the education rankings. The first is a product of the state's plan to revamp its testing. The 12th-grade proficiency test was dropped in the state's Local Report Cards and therefore is not used in our rankings. Also, we have included average class size as an education category this year.
As percentages of the overall education ranking, however, the Local Report Card data and the school-supplied data remain relatively unchanged.
Overall rankings were determined using raw data that were converted into points calculated from the average in each category. Rankings for safety and education were awarded based on the total scores in each category.
Sources: Statistics for calendar year 2002 were provided by each suburb (with the exception of Euclid and East Cleveland, which declined to participate).
Sources: Individual school districts and the Ohio Department of Education 2003 Local Report Card district data files.
On its school report cards, the ODE bases 20 of the 22 standards on proficiency tests administered in four grades: fourth, sixth, ninth and 10th. There are five proficiency tests in each grade: reading, writing, citizenship, science and mathematics.
Points are based on the actual percentages of students who pass each subject of each year's test. Therefore, a total of 500 points is possible in each grade (100 points for each subject).
The 12th-grade proficiency test was eliminated this year as part of the state's plan to phase out proficiency tests and replace them with tests that more closely follow new academic standards.
For more detailed reports on school district proficiency performance, visit www.ode.state.oh.us.
Median home-sale value
Source: Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
Source: 2002 rates of taxation are from county auditors' offices.
Sources: 2000 U.S. Census, Office of Strategic Research and the Northern Ohio Data and Information Service at Cleveland State University, designated by the State of Ohio and the U.S. Bureau of the Census as the Regional Data Center for northern Ohio
Source: The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's database of reported polluted sites, which is continuously updated and includes reports of polluted sites that the EPA has not fully investigated
ISO Fire Suppression Ratings
Source: State of Ohio Department of Insurance
Fire ratings for each community are based on three factors: fire department facilities, water (i.e. hydrant availability) and communications/dispatching. ISO fire ratings are used by property insurance companies to set premiums.
Ratings are given on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being a perfect fire-safety rating. A split score indicates that certain areas within a community have substantially different services, such as varying hydrant availability or proximity to a fire station. For example, a split score of 4/9 indicates that part of the community gets class 4 service, while the rest is at a class 9.
The mayor's office of each suburb informed us which of the following services are available to all residents: tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball/softball diamonds, indoor or outdoor ice rink, indoor swimming pool, outdoor swimming pool, recreation center, senior services and recycling programs.
For a full chart for each suburb, click here.
Poverty and Diversity
Source: 2000 U.S. Census
Diversity points are awarded based on the suburbs' percentage of minority residents (as defined by the Census), with the most points given to those suburbs closest to a 50 percent balance.