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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