Indulge us for a moment and think back to your collection of school photos. When you look at the collection of pictures taken year after year, you are certainly aware of the cosmetic changes your hair may go from stright to permed, your fashion sense from preppy to punk. Your facial features may mature. But you are still recognizable as the same growing kid. Think of each year's "Rating the Suburbs" as a school picture of our communities. We capture as much statistical information as we can for a particular year, and while the details in the picture may change over the course of 12 months, the basic features of our region are revealed.
|Get full coverage of "Rating the Suburbs" in the June 2001 issue of Cleveland Magazine and read Web exclusive content here:|
|The Suburb Shuffle|
|Suburbs Political Party Affiliation|
|Suburbs Recreation Services|
Also, each time we rate the suburbs, we revise and adjust our sources and methods. For example, last year's ratings brought about changes in how environmental infractions were calculated, based on advice from the Ohio EPA. We also gave more detail on school proficiency test scores, which resulted in some differences in the education results.
A good example of how one suburb can shift is Highland Heights' safety rank. How did they move from No. 20 in 2000 to No. 1 in 2001? Was there a sudden drop in the community's crime rate?
Actually, there was a slight increase in the number of crimes committed. However, our safety rankings are calculated on a per capita basis (to account for the wide range of populations in the suburbs we include). For Highland Heights, the U.S. Census figures show an increase in population from 7,144 in 2000 to 8,082 in 2001. More people means the per capita rate drops. Also, we compare the per capita crime rate in Highland Heights with the rates of the other 64 suburbs, not with their own rate in previous years.
Therefore, a change in one number Highland Heights' population can mean a change in their ranking in one factor. The volume of the statistics that are taken into account in our rankings (10 factors in 65 communities) statistics that are updated every year can certainly lead to a shift in the ratings over the course of a few years.
That being said, the same criteria and formulas are used each year, and the most important factors housing appreciation, safety and education as well as the other factors used in the rankings (property taxes, community services, environmental infractions, diversity and so on) will rarely undergo a seismic shift. The snapshot may capture a particular moment in time, but it is still a thorough and accurate image of the communities included.