Parents in Four States Get Better School Information from GreatSchools

January 7, 2014, San Francisco — GreatSchools has added significant new data about student progress and success to help parents in Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio find higher-performing K-12 schools that are a great fit for their children.

In addition to results from standardized tests, GreatSchools Ratings for schools in the four states now include measurements of:
• whether or not students are making academic progress over time
• high school graduation rates
• college readiness

“We know parents want more detailed information about schools and incorporating new data into the GreatSchools Rating is a big step forward,” says GreatSchools Founder and CEO Bill Jackson. “We’re always working to help parents get better information so they can make the best school decisions for their families.”

Last year, GreatSchools reached more than 50 million people, including more than half of U.S. families with school-aged children. The GreatSchools Rating helps parents compare the academic performance of all public and public charter schools (and private schools where data is available). School profiles on GreatSchools also provide reviews by parents, teachers, and students, and advice for parents about visiting schools and gathering information as part of their school selection process.

In addition to these four states, the new data is also included in GreatSchools Ratings for schools in Indiana, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, where GreatSchools pilot tested the additional data in 2012. In other states, the GreatSchools Rating continues to be based on results from standardized tests, but the organization will incorporate new school data as more states make the information available.

Incorporating new data is one of several ways GreatSchools is working to bring parents better school information and insight. The GreatSchools Local program, for example, establishes partnerships with city and state organizations to provide the most relevant and current local school information. GreatSchools also works with school leaders to highlight important aspects of a school, such as school climate and special programs offered at the school.

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that helps millions of parents find great schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. Our Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, is the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, with profiles of about 200,000 public and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers, and students. In addition, GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Headquartered in San Francisco, GreatSchools has local offices and programs in Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee.

Research on Parents and School Information

How Do Parents Research and Choose Schools? — GreatSchools 2013

How Americans Assess School Quality — Jon Valant Stanford 2013

Effects of Providing Info to School-Choosing Families — Stanford 2012

The Presentation of School Information — Peter Bergman Columbia 2013

How Parents Research Schools — Qualitative Study Rockman et al 2012

From time to time we do research to see what strategies are most helpful to parents and to make improvements. In some cases, we work with outside parties (e.g., university researchers) to implement this research and analyze data. We don’t share your identifiable information with outside researchers unless it was provided by you in a user survey or already publicly available.

Nearly 4 in 10 GreatSchools users unfamiliar with Common Core State Standards

San Francisco, November 15, 2013 — Almost 4 in 10 users of GreatSchools.org are “not at all familiar” with the new Common Core State Standards, according to a recent online survey of parents, teachers and others using the popular website. While 38% of users said they were unfamiliar with the new standards, 32% said they were either extremely familiar (19%) or very familiar (13%).

However, a majority (52%) of GreatSchools users who are familiar with the Common Core State Standards said they felt positive about adoption of the standards (27% very positive, 25% somewhat positive) while 27% said they felt negative (17% very negative, 10% somewhat negative).

“This survey clearly shows that parents and the public need more information about the new Common Core State Standards,” said GreatSchools CEO and Founder Bill Jackson. “Parents want to understand what the new standards will mean for their children and their schools.”

The nation’s leading independent online and mobile source of education information for parents, GreatSchools is developing articles, videos and tools to help parents explore the new Common Core State Standards and the changes these new standards may bring to their children’s classrooms. GreatSchools’ K-5 reading, writing and math worksheets are also tagged to the Common Core State Standards to help parents and teachers find standards-related learning materials for kids.

“GreatSchools has always been a proponent of high standards. We know from research that high expectations from adults help children succeed — in the classroom and at home,” Jackson said. “We’re working to introduce parents to the Common Core State Standards and to show them what it looks like for children to be on track relative to the standards at each grade level.”

2013-11-17_common_core

Methodology

The survey appeared online to a random sample of users on GreatSchools.org from October 7-9, 2013. Question 1 (“How familiar are you with the Common Core State Standards initiative?”) was answered by 1,255 users, and question 2 (“How do you feel about the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in K-12 schools?”) was answered by 602 users. Question 2 was asked only of respondents who reported any familiarity with the Common Core State Standards in question 1. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Margins of error are as follows:
Question 1: +/- 3 percentage points at a 95% confidence interval.
Question 2: +/- 4 percentage points at a 95% confidence interval.

About GreatSchools

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonpartisan nonprofit that helps millions of parents find great schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. Our Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, is the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, with profiles of about 200,000 public and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers and students. In addition, GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, GreatSchools reached 44 million people, including half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in San Francisco, GreatSchools has local programs in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Washington, DC.

Follow GreatSchools on Twitter at @GreatSchools, on Facebook at facebook.com/greatschools or on Pinterest at pinterest.com/greatschools.

Come one, come all and show us your school pride

Part 1 in a series: Gathering community insights about schools

Parents considering new schools for their children examine many factors and while specific priorities may vary, there is one thing families consistently tell us. When it comes to assessing schools, they value objective facts as well as the subjective opinions of others.

At GreatSchools, we gather facts and opinions and present them in an accessible fashion so parents can feel confident in their decisions about their children’s education. It’s no small task. With 130,000 K-12 schools nationally, providing a rich profile of each school means gathering information from multiple sources. Getting input from the millions of parents, teachers, administrators and students who visit our site each month plays a big part. You are the ones who know your school best.

Here are three ways you can help ensure that we’re providing an even fuller picture of your school on GreatSchools:

Write a Review: More than a million people have posted a review about their school on GreatSchools. Keep them coming! Reading first-hand perspectives is illuminating. New families, especially those who are relocating and may not know people in their new community, read reviews to get the inside scoop on a school.

To get the 2013-2014 year off to a great start, we’re running a Back-to-School Sweepstakes. Schools with at least 3 new reviews in a calendar month are eligible to win $5,000. Best of all, there are 3 chances to win with monthly drawings in August, September and October.

See official rules and enter here >>

 Answer a School Questionnaire: We’ve just rolled out a *new* online questionnaire aimed at those of you who know a school directly. When you visit a school profile that doesn’t have any information provided by a verified school leader, you will be prompted to answer a few questions, for example whether your school has specific programs, extracurricular activities or extended care. There are nine questions. So it only takes a minute or two to share what you know.

Register as a School Official: Principals and other verified school leaders, you can edit the information that is displayed about your school. Sign up today and tell the story of your school. It’s a simple and free way to showcase your school’s unique qualities. Your Official School Profile allows you to add details about programs, services, extracurricular activities and more. Principals can also use this feature to respond to reviews that are posted, and provide a “Principal’s point of view.”

Consider this an open invitation. Come one, come all. Show us your school pride!

GreatSchools and Tandem Partner to Highlight Online School Calendars

San Francisco, CA, July 16, 2013 — Tandem and GreatSchools are working together to make online school calendars more accessible to families around the United States.

With support from Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium, GreatSchools and Tandem will feature free school calendar information on the GreatSchools profiles of about 40,000 K-12 schools.

 “For today’s busy parents, staying connected with their kids’ schools means juggling many other details in their lives, from dinner plans to summer camp,” said GreatSchools Founder and CEO Bill Jackson.  “GreatSchools is excited to be working with Tandem to help parents access important school calendar information, any time they need it, from their computers or smartphones.”

Adding school calendar information to GreatSchools profiles will help families keep track of important information like school start dates, holidays, enrollment timelines, and special events.  Parents can easily download the information to their own calendars.  As the nation’s leading source of school information, GreatSchools is always working to provide families with more news and insights about their schools, and to help families and schools communicate.

About GreatSchools

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that helps parents get a great education for their children. Our Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, helps families make crucial decisions about where to live and where to send their children to school. GreatSchools.org is the nation’s leading guide to PreK-12 schools, with profiles of 200,000 public and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers and students. In addition, GreatSchools.org offers thousands of articles, videos and worksheets that give parents practical ways to support their children’s learning. Last year we reached 44 million people, including half of all American families with school-age children. Headquartered in San Francisco, GreatSchools has local programs in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Washington, DC.

Follow GreatSchools on Twitter at @GreatSchools, on Facebook at facebook.com/greatschools or on Pinterest at pinterest.com/greatschools.

About Tandem

Tandem is an online tool that enables schools to provide free, updated calendar information to their communities, and helps schools and communities stay connected. To set up a free school account, visit www.tandemcal.com. Follow Tandem on Twitter at @tandemcal or on Facebook at facebook.com/tandemcal.

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GreatSchools and Zillow Help Families Find Great Neighborhoods

San Francisco, CA – July 11, 2013 – GreatSchools is pleased to announce a partnership with Zillow®, the leading real estate marketplace, to help families find a home to buy or rent at the same time that they search for a great school.

“Many families come to GreatSchools for the first time because they are preparing to move to a new neighborhood or community,” said Bill Jackson, Founder and CEO of GreatSchools. “Parents are looking for a neighborhood with great school options for their kids, and partnering with Zillow helps GreatSchools bring families more and better information about the whole neighborhood, including nearby homes.”
Visitors to the GreatSchools.org website can now access the Zillow search experience, so that families can quickly click to detailed information about homes that are available near schools that they are considering for their children. Additionally, school profiles from GreatSchools are incorporated into the Zillow website, enabling families to learn more about nearby schools while they are looking for a home. GreatSchools has arranged a variety of partnerships to provide families with rich information and insights about schools, and help parents get the best possible education for their children.

Zillow is the leading online real estate company in the U.S., with a database of more than 110 million homes. Zillow is also an ideal partner for GreatSchools because the company provides a great user experience, especially on mobile devices. Mobile usage of the GreatSchools.org website has grown rapidly, and now brings 20% of total traffic to GreatSchools.org.

About GreatSchools

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that helps parents get a great education for their children. Our Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, helps families make crucial decisions about where to live and where to send their children to school. GreatSchools.org is the nation’s leading guide to PreK-12 schools, with profiles of 200,000 public and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers and students. In addition, GreatSchools.org offers thousands of articles, videos and worksheets that give parents practical ways to support their children’s learning. Last year we reached 44 million people, including half of all American families with school-age children. Headquartered in San Francisco, GreatSchools has local programs in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Washington, DC.

Follow GreatSchools on Twitter at @GreatSchools, on Facebook at facebook.com/greatschools or on Pinterest at pinterest.com/greatschools.
Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

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Gallup and GreatSchools Bring Youth Insights to School Reviews

New Survey Tracks Student Views on Hope, Engagement, Wellbeing

San Francisco, CA — June 11, 2013 — Gallup and GreatSchools are launching a new partnership to bring a crucial — and often missing — voice into national discussions about school quality and education success: the voice of America’s students.

Through this innovative partnership, Gallup will gather the perspectives of thousands of public school students in grades 5 through 12 and GreatSchools, the leading national online school guide, will share those insights on its profiles of K-12 schools. The Gallup Student Poll is a landmark new survey tracking the hope, engagement, and wellbeing of public school students across the U.S.

“Hope, engagement, and wellbeing are key factors that have been shown to drive students’ grades, achievement scores, retention, and success in future employment,” says Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. “The Gallup Student Poll is an important way to inform discussions about education with the voices of students, who are too often not included. We’re excited about this partnership and the opportunity to bring these insights to the many families and educators who rely on GreatSchools.”

“The Gallup-GreatSchools partnership will help families, educators, and others better understand key factors that help students succeed, using insights from kids themselves,” says Bill Jackson, founder and CEO of GreatSchools. “Hope, engagement, and wellbeing connect to the future success of our kids, and also provide insights about school environments, which will help families consider whether a school is a good fit.”

In 2012, 1,700 public schools participated, enabling their students to take the free Gallup Student Poll. Beginning in fall 2013, the highest-scoring schools that take the Gallup Student Poll will receive a “Gallup Kids Approved” badge on their GreatSchools profiles.

Over a 10-year period, the Gallup Student Poll will use anonymous student surveys to measure:

  • Hope — fuels problem solving and persistence, and helps students channel ideas and energy into producing positive outcomes.
  • Engagement — includes factors like feeling welcomed, encouraged, and recognized for working hard.
  • Wellbeing — measures how students are doing in multiple aspects of their lives, including their health, energy level and enjoyment.

About Gallup

Gallup experts work with leaders in education to hire and develop talented educators, identify the strengths of each student, and create engaging learning environments — fostering long-term student success in the classroom and in future careers. The best educators know that for students to achieve meaningful, lasting success in the classroom and beyond, they must be emotionally engaged in the educational experience. This means educators must focus on students’ hope, engagement, and wellbeing — the predictors Gallup has discovered matter the most. Measuring and moving the needle on these outcomes transforms educational institutions into places where students — and educators — thrive.

For more information, visit education.gallup.com, follow @GallupEducation, or contact Education@gallup.com.

About GreatSchools

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that helps parents get a great education for their children. Our Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, helps families make crucial decisions about where to live and where to send their children to school. GreatSchools.org is the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, with profiles of 200,000 public and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers, and students. In addition, GreatSchools.org offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets that give parents practical ways to support their children’s learning. Last year we reached 44 million people, including half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, GreatSchools has local chapters in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC.

Follow @GreatSchools, like GreatSchools on Facebook at facebook.com/greatschools, or see what GreatSchools has to share on Pinterest at pinterest.com/greatschools.

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GreatSchools Milwaukee Offers Free Resources to 17,000 Families Choosing Schools, Joined by Mayor and Governor at School Choice Event

Group co-hosts National School Choice Week event on January 30th, kicking off the most important open application period in the school selection season.

Milwaukee, WI – January 28, 2013 – GreatSchools Milwaukee will co-host a special National School Choice Week event on January 30th from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at the Grain Exchange. More than 350 students, parents, teachers, community members, and elected officials are expected to attend. The January 30th Milwaukee stop will bring together an unprecedented bipartisan coalition of educators and education reformers with representatives from all school sectors – private, public and charter. Governor Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and others are scheduled to speak and students from eight local schools will perform. Now in its third year, National School Choice Week is Jan. 27- Feb. 2 and boasts 3,500 local events spanning all 50 states.

The Milwaukee chapter of GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that promotes parental engagement in education, offers free resources to local families choosing a K-12 school. Interested families can call the organization’s bilingual hotline at 414-748-1211 or visit their website at www.greatschools.org/milwaukee for the most up-to- date information about the city’s more than 300 public, private and charter schools. The GreatSchools.org website includes profiles of every elementary, middle and high school in the city, performance ratings for all schools—public and private—interactive maps, school visit checklists and more. Parents can even read reviews of schools posted by real parents, students, and teachers to get the inside scoop. The site is mobile-friendly, so it works on either a computer or a smartphone.
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GreatSchools Takes Silver at Gates-Facebook Hackathon

GreatSchools recently participated in and won 2nd place at HackEd, an inspiring 1-day education “hackathon” sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.  College Summit and King Center Charter School co-sponsored the event.

The goal of the hackathon was to encourage developers, education experts, and nonprofits to prototype Facebook apps that help low-income and first-generation students get into and graduate from college.  HackEd was also the official kickoff for the College Knowledge Challenge, a broader challenge issued by the Gates Foundation with 30 more prizes totaling $2.5M.

More than 150 people attended HackEd, including representatives from organizations such as iMentor, 4.0 Schools, EverFiMytonomy, Unigo, and more.
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Giving parents more and better information about schools

Reaching nearly half of all American K-12 households, GreatSchools is the leading source of information about schools for parents nationally. For more than a decade, we’ve published data to help families understand how schools are performing academically and we’ve coupled that with an unparalleled collection of community ratings and reviews – more than one million at last count.

While our ratings and reviews are one of the best ways to learn about a school, we know that parents must also look beyond the numbers in order to fairly assess whether a particular school will be a good fit for their child and family. They need reliable information about a school’s programs, culture, and unique features – information that is hard to come by at scale.
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