With kids heading back to school, parents in California might find a new tool for comparing schools handy. The California Department of Education, touting the need to improve transparency and accountability, launched a new Web site that allows users to compare neighborhood schools' performance using a variety of data including academic performance, graduation and dropout rates, student-teacher ratios, how much money each school receives per student and course offerings. Information from as many as three schools can be compared side by side. Parents can search by category, such as elementary or high school, and by city, address or ZIP code. The site utilizes Google Maps and GIS technology from Microsoft to provide data on schools in every region of California on traditional schools as well as alternative, adult-education and charter schools.