A CALIFORNIAN company has set up a "Which? school" service on the Internet, charging parents $6 (Pounds 10) for a profile of a school.
Customers get a four-page description and analysis of a school's student body, its teachers, resources and important ratios from School Wise Press.
Steve Rees, editor and publisher of School Wise, says many school districts hide information about the ways schools differ, so the company has devised rankings to allow parents to make comparisons.
He says the profiles put test scores in context and allow comparisons with other schools in the county and across the state.
As well as being useful for parents, School Wise believes homebuyers and job-hunting teachers will also use the service.
The profiles can be ordered from www.schoolwisepress.com Meanwhile, in another innovative use of the Internet, a member of the Californian State Assembly has set up a website that allows parents in Oakland, near San Francisco, to report problems with their children's schools.
Don Perata, a former teacher, says hearing about one problem after another, led him to create the site. "Currently, there is no way to track the problems experienced by students, parents, teachers and principals or to register a complaint outside the school district," he says.
The site is at www.oaklandschools.com