A piece of information that is frequently overlooked about schools is the school map symbol. When reviewing schools, it is important to not only review the point's location, name, and address information, but also the symbol used to represent the school:
To help with this process, we've put together a suggested workflow for determining whether a school is represented by the correct map symbol.
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1 - Identify an Authoritative Source
Ideally, users would use an authoritative source to identify which grade levels a school offers. So first we need to locate an authoritative source for the point.
While examining the point in the Editor, make note of the point's name. Search the Web for this name to see if this entity has its own website.
Insider's Tip: search for the point's name, along with the city and/or state the point is located in (e.g., "Anderson Elementary School Texas"). Doing so will refine search results.
2 - Confirm the Address & Correct Building
Once we have an authoritative source for the point, we need to do a little bit of research to make sure the point is positioned on the correct building.
First, locate the address on the school's website and map it with a commercial mapping service:
Next, we suggest "scrolling down the street" to examine building facades for signage, etc.:
SOURCE: Google Street View
Once you've located the correct building based on street signage, etc., make sure the point is located on the correct building in the Web Editor by comparing the aerial imagery of the Web Editor and the commercial web map:
SOURCE: Google Maps
3 - Confirm Name and Icon
3a - Authoritative Sources
Now that we know this school is still in operation and that it is located on the correct building, we need to confirm that it is titled correctly and represented by the correct symbol.
This particular point is currently labeled as a General School:
According to our Structures List, a General School is a school that does not fit neatly into the category of Elementary, Middle, or High School, but instead covers a combination of grade levels from more than one of these categories. We need to try and find some information on the school's website that either confirms or debunks use of this icon.
To help determine which map icon to use, it's beneficial to ask yourself a series of questions about the school:
Walking through the Decision Tree's questions for this particular school, we can answer, "Yes, the school's name matches an authoritative source (we did this in Step 3a), and Yes, the Illinois Lutheran Elementary School self identifies with one of the school categories."
Therefore, the Elementary School symbol would be an appropraite map symbol for this point:
3b - NCES
Sometimes we aren’t so lucky with schools. There will be times when a school's title does not self-identify with a particular school type. There will also be times when the school's website does not state which grades are offered at that school.
For these scenarios, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is sometimes a safe backup plan:
NOTE that an authoritative source is preferred. Information on NCES is frequently a few years out of date and does not always show the most accurate information. Only use NCES when the school and/or district website does not list grade levels.
4 - Update Map Icon
After doing some research and now knowing what we know, we would change this particular point from a General School to an Elementary School: