GreatSchools and Innovate Public Schools Launch New, Bilingual School Quality Website for Bay Area Parents during National School Choice Week

Visit the new site:
www.greatschools.org/bayarea

San Francisco Bay Area, CA, January 25, 2016GreatSchools, a national nonprofit helping parents guide their kids to successful futures, and Innovate Public Schools, which works with parents to improve education in their communities, today launched the new GreatSchools Bay Area website.

“Our goal is to better engage traditionally underserved Bay Area families in finding and demanding high-quality schools for their children and their communities,” said Matt Hammer, Founder and CEO of Innovate Public Schools. “Through this partnership, we’re putting powerful, easy-to-understand data in the hands of more parents and connecting them to opportunities to get involved to not only support their own child, but to improve schools across their community.”
Innovate-postcard_web-graphic-768x541

Throughout the Bay Area, too many low-income students, English Learners, Latino and African-American students are being left behind, unprepared for success in college and beyond.  But there are also shining examples of schools that excel in preparing the Bay Area’s young people for success in college and beyond.

“When parents have accurate information about schools in their neighborhood that is relevant to their child, they can make better decisions,” said Bill Jackson, CEO of GreatSchools.  “Now, all parents will have more information to assess local schools, especially schools supporting traditionally underserved groups.”

Thanks to this partnership, for the first time ever, the entire GreatSchools website is available in Spanish nationwide, making school data and information accessible to millions more families. The partnership also includes rolling out new data on underserved students across the site, as well as spotlights to compare schools across a community.

This new, gs_email_3-768x512mobile-friendly site includes school ratings based on academic performance, math and English language arts proficiency rates and college readiness measures for different groups of students.  It also features Community Spotlight pages where parents can explore and compare how well local schools are preparing different subgroups of children in San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose and East Palo Alto.

The new tools and features include:

    • Low-income students test score: Learn how low-income students perform and how it compares statewide to schools that serve a similar student body
    • Student Group Comparison: See how a school is doing for diverse groups of students
    • Nearby school options: See which high-quality school options are nearby in pop-up at the bottom of every school profile
    • Community Spotlights: Compare schools across the Bay Area, as well as spotlights specific to San Francisco, Redwood City, San Jose, Oakland and East Palo Alto
    • Take action: Learn ways to connect and take action to improve education in the Bay Area

Visit the new site:
www.greatschools.org/bayarea

About GreatSchools
Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit helping millions of parents find high-quality schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, GreatSchools had more than 56 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools partners with cities and states across the country to promote access to school quality data to families, particularly those in high need. Through GreatKids initiatives, GreatSchools promotes teacher-parent collaboration and supports parenting for education success.

About Innovate Public Schools
Innovate Public Schools is a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring that all Bay Area students, including low-income students and students of color, receive an excellent education. We’re building a movement of families, educators, and business and elected leaders who together will make this vision a reality. We build the capacity of parents and educators to innovate and act together to create world-class public schools, and we publish easy-to-understand school quality data and research that highlights both problems and solutions.

CONTACT:

Carrie Goux
774-563-0295
cgoux@greatschools.org

Sierra Jenkins
310-909-6331
sjenkins@innovateschools.org

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PARCC Launches Tool with GreatSchools to Help Parents Understand New Test Results

Resource unpacks meaning of Common Core aligned scores;
helps parents support kids’ learning

SAN FRANCISCO (December 7th, 2015) — GreatSchools, a national nonprofit helping parents guide their kids to successful futures, and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) announced today their new collaboration to assist parents in supporting their kids’ learning by unpacking PARCC test scores through the new GreatKids Test Guide for Parents.

“At GreatSchools, we know parents simply want to understand what the test scores mean and how they can use that information to guide their children to academic success,” said Bill Jackson, CEO and founder of GreatSchools. “Our guide breaks down the scores in a way that is easy to understand and provides concrete tips so teachers and parents can work together to support their children.”

Twenty math and English Language Arts (ELA) teachers from states using Common Core aligned assessments were part of the development process behind the GreatKids Test Guide for parents. Through the lens of their experiences in the classroom, they provided insight into what supports parents need to make the best use of their child’s test results to improve their academic growth. These teachers included members of the PARCC Educator Leader Cadres, teacher fellows from America Achieves, and teachers affiliated with Educators for Excellence.

“The PARCC Tool is a fantastic resource for any parent interested in specific suggestions to support their student’s progress towards college and career readiness at home,” said Jessica Moore, elementary English Language Arts teacher and one of the twenty teacher leaders who gave feedback on the Test Guide. “The Standards are unpacked in a way that ensures the information reads like a conversation between parent and teacher, with accessible suggestions for questions, activities and resources that can be used to help children be successful at home and at school.”

GreatSchools developed the Test Guide as a roadmap for parents. The Guide explains, in plain English and Spanish, what students are expected to learn in grades 3-8 and how the PARCC test assesses student learning. It explains what knowledge and skills are needed for each area of the test and which parts are especially tough for kids; and it offers easy ways to boost a child’s skills at home. The guide breaks down PARCC test scores in a way that is easy to communicate, interpret and understand so teachers and parents can collaborate to ensure children’s success.

The Guide — which has also been created for parents with kids in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) states — will support parents in states using PARCC, including: Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island.

About GreatSchools 

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonpartisan nonprofit helping millions of parents find quality schools, support great learning and guide their kids to great futures. GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, more than 59 million unique visitors accessed the GreatSchools website including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools partners with cities and states across the country. Through its GreatKids initiatives, GreatSchools promotes teacher-parent collaboration and supports parenting for education success.

About PARCC

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a group of states working together to develop a set of mathematics and English language arts assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in the next grade and, ultimately, in college and their careers. These assessments were designed from the ground up by educators to be different than previous state tests and to evaluate not only knowledge, but also important skills like critical thinking, problem solving and effective communications. The assessments provide critical information about whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school, and tools to help teachers customize teaching and learning to meet student needs.

California State Test Scores Aligned to Common Core Released Today

Tool to Explain Test Results & Provide Learning Tips to Parents Released by National Non-profit Education Organization

September 9, 2015 — Oakland, CA — With today’s release of California state test scores tied to Common Core State Standards, GreatSchools, a national nonprofit helping millions of parents support learning, launches the GreatKids California State Test Guide for Parents, an innovative tool designed to help parents and teachers understand the new scores and use them to support kids’ learning.

“The GreatKids Test Guide for Parents will help California parents and teachers bolster their children’s learning,” said Alyson Brauning, Vacaville Teachers Association Vice-President, middle school teacher and parent of a 6th and 11th grader. Sam Blanco III, member of Woodland, CA’s Joint Unified School District school board and father of 7th and 11th graders said, “It’s so very important for me as a school board member and parent to understand not only what these scores mean for our kids, but how we can use them to help them master school curriculum.”

California is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which has developed new tests tied to the Common Core State Standards. Today, the California Department of Education releases statewide scores from the SBAC tests taken by California schoolchildren last spring. Over the next few weeks, parents in the state will be receiving their own children’s results on the tests. Parents are likely to have many questions, including: What was my child being tested on? If my child did not meet a standard, why not? And perhaps most important: How can I use these test results to help my child do better in school?

“We aim to support California parents and teachers by breaking down what these scores mean for their kids and helping them support their children in school,” said Bill Jackson, CEO and founder of GreatSchools. “Parents might wonder how to respond when receiving their children’s results,” continued Jackson. “Our guide demystifies the scores so teachers can explain them to parents and parents can discover simple, powerful ways they can support their children’s academic success.”

Created in collaboration with assessment designers, teachers, parents and community organizations, the GreatKids California State Test Guide for Parents is designed to answer these questions and more. Guide content was informed by best practices in parenting for education success and has been carefully vetted by education experts.

To use and/or share the guide, go to CaliforniaTestGuide.org.

About GreatSchools

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonpartisan nonprofit helping millions of parents find quality schools, support great learning and guide their kids to great futures. GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, more than 59 million unique visitors accessed the GreatSchools website including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools partners with cities and states across the country. Through its GreatKids initiatives, GreatSchools promotes teacher-parent collaboration and supports parenting for education success.

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New Tools Empower Parents to Help Children Develop Emotional Intelligence

GreatSchools Partners with Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
to Create Social Emotional Learning Tools for Parents, Children

OAKLAND, CA — June 23, 2015 — GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that helps millions of parents guide their kids to great futures announced today in collaboration with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the launch a new set of tools called “Emotional Smarts.” These tools will help parents help their children develop emotional intelligence, build character, and shape valuable life skills such as independence, resilience, confidence, gratitude, courage, empathy, and grit.

Research shows that students with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more engaged in the classroom, and do better academically. They are also most likely to find success later in life in the workplace and at home.

“Every year at GreatSchools, we help millions of parents who want to guide their child’s success in life,” said Bill Jackson, CEO and founder of GreatSchools. “We support parents through every stage of their child’s education — whether it’s finding the right school for their child, demystifying national education trends and policy, or surfacing new ways for parents to engage in their child’s learning. This new partnership with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is designed to translate cutting-edge research into practical steps that parents can take to help support their child’s social and emotional learning.”

Based on research conducted at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, home to the original scientific theory of emotional intelligence, the new content and tools that will help parents teach their children how to resolve conflicts, foster positive relationships and build emotional intelligence.

“The sustainability of a strong society requires each of us to use our emotions intelligently.  Research in the area of social emotional learning has shown us that the skills of emotional intelligence impact a person’s ability to thrive personally and academically,” said Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. “The valuable content created through this project will support families in equipping their children with the skills of emotional intelligence they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives, in and out of school.”

The end result of this collaboration is a series of social, emotional learning tools including articles, videos and features, hosted on GreatSchools.org to help parents facing challenges such as homework battles, sibling rivalry, discipline, friendships, bullying and competition.

Among the tools you will find at GreatSchools.org are:

  • Through a child’s eyes — A series of videos that help parents see issues like homework, friendships and sibling rivalry from their child’s perspective.
  • Do you feel me? —  A game that helps children understand and recognize emotions by allowing them to guess the “feeling word” they are watching in a series of videos.
  • Emotional toolbox — Videos, articles and expert advice on parenting challenges and building character in your child.
  • Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence tools — Tools to help your family resolve conflicts, foster parent relationships, and build children’s emotional intelligence.
  • Mad-Sad-Glad Libs — Explore “feeling words” in a fun way!


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.

The 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 had more than 59 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children.  Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools partners with cities and states across the country.


About The Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence: 

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, co-founded by Dr. Marc Brackett, is home to the original scientific theory of emotional intelligence. The Center conducts research on emotions and the role of emotional intelligence in important life outcomes. The Center also develops innovative approaches to teaching emotional intelligence in school systems and other organizations, and studies the influence of emotional intelligence training on student, teacher, and leader effectiveness. RULER, the Center’s signature approach to teaching emotional intelligence has been adopted by hundreds of public and private schools across the United States, including, most recently large districts such as Bridgeport, CT and Seattle, WA. RULER has been shown to enhance teacher effectiveness, reduce problem behavior, positively shift school climate, and boost academic performance. The Center also works with Facebook on efforts related to both preventing and reducing bullying and state level departments of education and justice to promote the adoption of evidence-based approaches to social and emotional learning.

CONTACT:

GreatSchools
Steve Padilla, Director of Communications
spadilla@greatschools.org
707-330-6559

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GreatSchools Printed School Guide Helps Indianapolis Parents Find Quality Schools

GreatSchools.org printed and online guide helps parents
find the right fit school for their child

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, June 16, 2015: Today, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and GreatSchools announces its annual distribution of the city’s school guide for the 2015-16 school year which compliments the Greatschools.org/Indianapolis website.  The printed guide and website continues to provide Indianapolis families a one stop shop to gain in-depth information such as AP offerings, before and after school care, school clubs, sports and organizations, to help with the selection of a school that will fit the needs and preferences of their children.

Mayor Ballard will be joined by GreatSchools Senior Director of Local Engagement, Jodi Goldberg and Jackie Nytes of the Indianapolis Central Library today to discuss the importance of providing school information resources for parents. Last year, over 10,000 families in Indianapolis used the printed guide to support their school selection and Indianapolis has the highest number of families using GreatSchools.org compared to all other GreatSchools partner cities. The mayor’s Office of Education Innovation collaborated with more than 180 community partners and organizations to ensure this information gets in the hands of Indianapolis residents.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Mayor Ballard and the City of Indianapolis to offer families a valuable resource to help them find schools that best fit the needs of their children,” said GreatSchools founder and CEO Bill Jackson. “GreatSchools strives to make it easier and more accessible for parents to get a great education for their child.”

The online guide at GreatSchools.org/Indianapolis offers innovative filters to help narrow down the school search for families. Parents have the ability to discover schools by searching for transportation services, programs and extracurricular activities.  The partnership with Mayor Ballard and the City of Indianapolis builds on GreatSchools’ longstanding work to help parents make well-informed decisions about their children’s education.


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.  The 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 had more than 59 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children.  Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools partners with cities and states across the country.

Media Contact:
Steve Padilla,
spadilla@greatschools.org; 707.330.6559

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New Videos Help Parents Understand Educational Standards

Milestones videos from GreatSchools demonstrate Common Core Standards for grades K-5 and empower parents to understand their child’s progress

OAKLAND, CA — February 4, 2015 — GreatSchools, the nation’s leading non-profit education site for parents, today introduces Milestones, an online collection of videos aimed at helping parents understand grade-level expectations in grades K-5.  Milestones show students demonstrating what success looks like in reading, writing and math, grade by grade.

“There is no better way to gauge how your children are doing in school than to actually see other children their age demonstrate critical skills,” said Bill Jackson, chief executive officer and founder of GreatSchools. “These short, accessible videos provide that necessary benchmark. They are a cornerstone of GreatSchools’ mission: to help parents get a great education for their children.”

In designing Milestones, GreatSchools worked closely with Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit founded by the lead writers of the Common Core that supports teachers in aligning their instruction to the college and career-readiness expectations of the Standards.  Each Milestones video shows real teachers working with students to demonstrate end-of-the year grade level expectations in reading, writing, and math. By seeing what success looks like at the end of the year, parents can get a good understanding of their own child’s educational development.

“National PTA is committed to educating and supporting families as states and schools adapt to Common Core Standards,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA, a launch partner for Milestones. “We are pleased to collaborate with GreatSchools and bring the Milestones videos to families nationwide to help ensure they are informed and supportive of their children with their schoolwork.”

The Milestones video collection is also a great resource for school teachers. Educators can share these free videos with parents to help them understand changing academic expectations. Each video on the site is also accompanied by relevant worksheets, booklists and other resources aimed at helping children improve or get ahead.

The development and distribution of Milestones is supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and many others.

The 120+ video collection is now available in English and Spanish on any device or platform at greatschools.org/milestones. Videos for grades 6-12 are coming soon.

About GreatSchools

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that helps millions of parents find  schools and support their children’s learning. The Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, had nearly 60 million unique visitors last year and reaches more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children every year. As the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, the site offers 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 research-based articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools has local programs and offices in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC.

CONTACT:

Grayling
Natalia Garcia, Director
Natalia.garcia@grayling.com
202-739-1322

Or

GreatSchools
Steve Padilla, Director of Communications
spadilla@greatschools.org
707-330-6559

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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!

Evolution of the GreatSchools Rating

Since its inception back in 2006, the GreatSchools Rating has helped millions of parents evaluate their neighborhood schools, make clear and simple comparisons, and find a great school for their child. In a world of dizzying education data, the GreatSchools Rating offers an easy-to-understand measure of overall test score performance. The value of the rating is its simplicity and scale; the 1-to-10 rating is straightforward, while maintaining methodological integrity and scalability.

However, we know that parents care about more than test scores alone, so we’ve begun to test ways to include multiple measures of school quality in the GreatSchools Rating. Just as a doctor wouldn’t give a patient a clean bill of health based on blood pressure alone, it is important to evaluate various factors of a school’s overall performance. Here are a few concepts we’re beginning to test with an eye toward scaling the innovations that look most promising:
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Introducing our new school profiles

While measures of a school’s academic performance (such as test scores) are important, we know from experience that parents crave a far broader perspective on the schools they’re considering. In response, we at GreatSchools have enhanced our school profiles by collecting and providing details on school culture, climate, and programs. And, we’ve made this information available to readers in a simpler, more comprehensible format.

“School Profiles” have always been the core of the GreatSchools mission, and with the roll out of our new profile design, we have already begun to see parents spending more time on the site, viewing more pages, and considering more options than ever before. We’ve created a new feature that allows representatives of schools and organizations to contribute to their schools’ profile and provide details about their institution’s strengths and unique programs. If you are a school leader or influence school leaders, we’d appreciate you passing information about this feature along so we can keep improving our school profiles.
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Proof of impact

A Stanford study finds that GreatSchools Local has a real impact on how parents of elementary age kids choose schools

For the past five years, GreatSchools has been operating local programs in select cities to help parents who might not otherwise have access to resources and knowhow find the right schools for their children. As we have collected feedback that parents appreciate and use our services, our local offices have expanded and evolved. Milwaukee’s office opened in November 2007 followed by ones in Washington, DC in 2009 and Indianapolis in 2011. All three communities have open enrollment, abundant charter options, and voucher programs for low-income families. We reach predominantly low-income families. In 2011-12, 60% of families we served in Washington, DC and 70% in Milwaukee, WI were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Yet without a well-designed rigorous study conducted by a neutral party, it’s been difficult to measure the impact of our programs. This fall, with the preliminary release of findings from a randomized control trial (RCT) conducted through Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA), we can finally point to strong evidence that GreatSchools Local is influencing parents to choose higher performing schools.
(more…)

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