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

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:
Continue reading “Evolution of the GreatSchools Rating”

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.
Continue reading “Introducing our new school profiles”

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.
Continue reading “Proof of impact”

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.
Continue reading “GreatSchools Takes Silver at Gates-Facebook Hackathon”