Most kids don't think too much about what the community has to say about their own school, let alone what people from other parts of the country have to say. However, we all make assumptions based on all kinds of factors, including location, racial makeup of schools, test scores, and more.
Websites that "objectively" analyze data collected about schools offer parents a chance to see a snapshot of the school. Again, students don't tend to consider this persepctive, but this assignment encouarages students to do just that. It started as a To Kill a Mockingbird assignment. I had students look at their own school compared to the more urban school I attended compared to a high school in Alabama that still had segregated proms.
If you've ever been the one to say that numbers don't lie, then this is the kind of assignment for you. Data can miss the mark, especially when it comes to how people feel about one another. And even if all the numbers work and all the statistics prove stereotypes, it's an interesting assignment, using real sources from today.
I always printed off the schools I wanted the students to find, but you could have each group decide, as well, though they should at least choose their own school.