Just Released: State Guide to Building Online School Report Cards

Collaborative Communications Group is honored to partner with the Council of Chief State School Officers, Data Quality Campaign, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Learning Heroes, and the National PTA to develop a State Guide to Building Online School Report Cards. Collaborative believes that education data is a transformative, powerful lever for initiating policy and fostering engagement, and we are thrilled to share this resource with the field.

Dear Friend,

We are proud to announce the release of a State Guide to Building Online School Report Cards – a 12-month, step-by-step timeline and guide outlining the process for states to develop a next-generation report card under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

This new guide, co-created by our organizations – Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Collaborative Communications Group, Data Quality Campaign, ExcelinEd, Learning Heroes and National PTA – helps states break down the process for creating report cards that are easy for parents and the public to access and understand.

We hope this guide will be a valuable resource as states begin coordinating with data experts, designers, developers, policy and communications experts, parents and community stakeholders to develop accessible and high-quality report cards.

Please share this resource with your networks, and let us know if we can offer any additional support.


Chris Minnich, Executive Director, CCSSO

Katherine Hunt, Senior Vice President, Collaborative Communications Group

 Aimee Guidera, President & CEO, Data Quality Campaign

Patricia Levesque, CEO, ExcelinEd

Bibb Hubbard, Founder & President, Learning Heroes

Laura M. Bay, President, National PTA


View Guide

Introducing the New DQC Website: We’re Putting Students at the Center

w3winner_silverUpdate (11/8/2016): DQC’s website has won a 2016 W3 Award in the education category of websites. The W3 Awards honor creative excellence on the web, and are judged by the Academy of Interactive Visual Arts. 

This spring Collaborative Communications was delighted to partner with Data Quality Campaign and our friends at Social Driver to lead the redesign of Data Quality Campaign’s website. We set out to make the organization’s mission and vision clearer for all audiences by drawing attention to the human side of education data, and to emphasize the campaign aspect of DQC’s work through pathways on the site that drive users to take action around the effective use of education data. Together we developed a friendly, vibrant new site design that is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and easily maintained by DQC’s staff. Make sure you visit the website’s new resource library, which now offers a curated set of resources that are easily searchable by topic, type and audience.

DQC does incredible work on behalf of students, parents, educators and policymakers, and we’re proud to support them in their efforts to make data work for all students. If you’re interested in partnering with us on a website redesign project, please email Katherine Hunt at hunt@collaborativecommunications.com.

Introducing the New DQC Website: We’re Putting Students at the Center

Reposted from Data Quality Campaign

Students are at the center of the education system. It’s important to us at the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) that they’re at the center of our advocacy too.

We’re committed to the idea that everyone involved in a student’s education journey should have the information they need to support that student. A big component of that access to information is ensuring information is easily found, in an understandable format, and tailored to the unique needs of parents, educators, community members, and policymakers. While we demand that this become a reality for education systems throughout the country, we also know it must be a reality in our own work. In the spirit of practicing what we preach, we’ve redesigned how we present our own resources.

On April 26, with the help of Collaborative Communications and Social Driver, we launched a redesigned website, with a brighter look and feel to our resources. Our primary goal is to make the information we present about the policies, best practices, and current use of education data available and understandable to people at all levels of familiarity. We’re putting people at the center of our advocacy, so no matter where they live, people in every state can use our tools to advocate for students in their community.

So what’s different?

We’ve centered the new site around our big idea: when students, parents, educators, and policymakers have the right information to make decisions, students excel.

Illustration Sketch

We’ve made it easier than ever to learn the basics of student data. Head over to Why Education Data? to learn the what, who, and how of education data use.

Why Education Data Screen Grab

We’ve reorganized our resource library so that all types of advocates, from parents to policymakers, can find the information they need to make education data work for their students.

Resources Screen Grab

Our new vision permeates the entirety of our work. In addition to making information on our website more accessible and understandable to a variety of audiences, our team is changing the way we create our resources as well. We’re including more stories of what great data use looks like on the ground level, so that everyone can see the impact of this important tool on outcomes for students.

With the help of our web development partners and the commitment of the entire DQC team, we’ve been able to practice what we preach and do our best to ensure that all people dedicated to improving education have access to the right information when they need it so that they can best support their students.

Collaborative is looking for a senior digital project manager!

Collaborative Communications Group, Inc. is looking for an experienced senior digital project manager committed to high-quality work with a passion to help improve learning systems through better communications, collaboration and engagement. The ideal candidate will be able to:

  • Lead the design and management of online tools, projects and teams;
  • Manage and sustain client and vendor relationships;
  • Remain aware of new and emerging technologies and their potential application for client engagements;
  • Demonstrate experience with requirements gathering, requirements documenting (use cases, user stories, business processes, and training documentation) and change management for web-based applications;
  • Create and execute project work plans and timelines, revising as appropriate to meet changing project needs and requirements and maintaining project documentation;
  • Manage project resources to deliver exceptional digital solutions and products;
  • Understand client contracts and billing procedures, track and report costs and expenses, and ensure timely and accurate invoices; and
  • Deliver quality products on time and within scope and budget in a fast-paced, team-oriented professional environment.

Position Overview: The senior digital project manager at Collaborative leads teams and develops creative and digital tools, initiatives and products that further the goals of our clients.

The senior digital project manager will directly support the conceptualization, planning, development, implementation, logistics and budget for individual projects and be responsible for lending digital expertise to projects and for staff capacity-building across the firm.

Specifically, this position will be responsible for creating and delivering effective digital and creative strategies that are carefully tailored for individual client needs, such as website development projects, interactive tools and data visualization, web writing projects, social media strategy, online communities of practice and other forms of online engagement, facilitation and communication.

Responsibilities: The senior digital project manager will:

  1. Work to define and create meaningful digital solutions to meet client needs within available budget and scope;
  2. Independently execute website development and related digital projects;
  3. Communicate effectively with clients to identify needs and evaluate alternative solutions;
  4. Provide digital strategy and technology subject matter expertise;
  5. Participate meaningfully in team and project meetings; and
  6. Support the development of partner and vendor relationships.

Qualifications: The senior digital project manager will have or demonstrate:

  1. Bachelor’s degree and experience managing the creation of digital tools in the service of communications goals;
  2. Exceptional communications skills, combined with the ability to work with people at all levels of an organization;
  3. Demonstrated leadership and management skills, including of technical teams;
  4. Ability to facilitate technical decision-making, both independently and in coordination with a client;
  5. Familiarity with modern UX practices and process, ability to collaborate across disciplines, and skill in proactively identifying issues and solutions;
  6. Experience solving client or customer problems through the application of appropriate technical solutions, particularly as relevant to non-profit and government organizations;
  7. Experience with and ability to explain the use of common content management systems, including Drupal and WordPress;
  8. Knowledge of graphic design, web development workflows and implementation processes, and best practices for managing websites and other interactive media;
  9. Experience with new and social media writing in a professional setting; and
  10. Flexibility during peak workload periods.

Salary is competitive. This is a full-time position based in our Washington, D.C. office.

About Collaborative: Collaborative works to improve public education within the United States and across the world through learning, collaboration, communications and engagement.

We are a learning-focused consulting firm that works to:

  • Connect networks of people in learning communities within and across organizations to significantly enhance their knowledge and capacity;
  • Create, share and use knowledge to generate new ideas and improve performance; and
  • Engage diverse stakeholders to go beyond traditional approaches, create solutions aligned to the values of the people affected by them and build sustained attention to complex problems.

For more than 15 years, Collaborative has partnered with leading education organizations, foundations, government agencies, school districts and community-based organizations that share our values and commitment.

We empower our clients by working to build capacity—not dependency—and by providing an array of strategies, systems and tools that are continuously evolving.

We provide access to and connections within a growing network of organizations, researchers, consultants, practitioners and community members whose collective content knowledge, expertise and experience supports the learning and growth of everyone in the network.

We build tools, processes and products that are intended to accelerate learning and productivity and that regularly produce breakthrough results.

To Apply: Please visit http://www.collaborativecommunications.com for more information about our award-winning interactive services as well as its corporate capabilities, values, philosophy, practice areas and client base.

Please combine a cover letter and resume into a single file and send via email to jobs@collaborativecommunications.com by February 1, 2016. No phone calls please.

The statements in this description represent typical elements, criteria and general work performed. They should not be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required of this position.  

Collaborative Communications Group, Inc., is an equal-opportunity, affirmative action employer. It is a strongly held value of Collaborative that power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, disability or age. All candidates will be evaluated on a merit basis.

Mayors’ Report Card on Education: Helping Mayors Better Engage in Their City’s Education Landscape

Last month, Collaborative Communications was delighted to partner with the George W. Bush Institute’s Education Reform Initiative to produce the Mayors’ Report Card on Education, a first-time initiative to present comparable data at the district and city level to help mayors better engage in their city’s education landscape.

The report cards and summary report were unveiled at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting, and are now available to the public here. Read more about from the Dallas Observer, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Politico, and in the Dallas Morning News below.

In D.C., Mike Rawlings presents fellow mayors with Bush Institute’s Report Card on Education

By Robert Wilonsky, Dallas Morning News

On Wednesday, during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meetings in Washington, D.C., Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings unveiled the Mayors’ Report Card on Education, which compares and contrasts the state of the schools in 33 cities. And while it’s far from comprehensive, using in some instances data that’s more than three years old, Rawlings and Spellings say it gives mayors at least a glimpse at the good, the bad and the going-nowhere of their cities’ respective school districts.

“This is just beginning,” says Spellings, now the president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU. She and Rawlings promised during the mayors’ conference in Dallas last June to present the report card this year. “We do have issues with availability of data, but that notwithstanding we tried to help mayors get a handle on what’s going in their cities. While they often don’t have direct authority over education in their cities, they deal with the effects of it — the crime rate, poverty and social safety nets, businesses’ decisions to move to their cities. Graduation rates, ACT scores, early childhood education — these are things that are of interest to mayors.”

In Dallas, says Rawlings, a few things immediately leaped out at him, among them: Dallas Independent School District students’ modest to non-existent gains on National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading tests, and African-American students’ low test scores.

“We’re not keeping pace with the NAEP scores,” Rawlings says. “If you look at the the trendline in the nation, you see it improving in the last four years, and Dallas has been somewhat flat to slightly up. We’re not doing something someone else is doing. The second thing, I immediately go to minority test score, because we’re a minority district … and when I do that, there are a lot of low scores. But then I see Sacramento, which has nearly double the college-readiness scores for African-American students. I will be with their mayor [and U.S. Conference of Mayors President] Kevin Johnson tonight, and I will ask him, ‘What is happening with your African-American students?’ Maybe there’s an idea we’re not doing here.”

The report also underscores another deficiency: ACT test scores among Dallas ISD students. The national average is a score of 21; in Dallas, it’s 17.2, which puts the DISD near the bottom among the 33 cities that took part in this first-ever mayors’ report card.

“I’ve said this before: We are in the bottom 20 percent of the nation,” says Rawlings. “And how we don’t see that as a huge fire alarm is concerning to me.”

Rawlings acknowledges that the report comes at an “interesting” time — just as the home-rule commission decided not to leave Dallas ISD’s governance as-is. Rawlings had been one of the vocal champions of turning DISD into a home-rule district largely free from the state’s interference. He says he’s disappointed by the outcome, but not surprised. “When the board appointed the individuals they appointed,” he says, “we saw the writing on the wall on this body and what they were going to do.” He says he’s “amazed” there are people who still want Austin to mandate what and how Dallas teaches its students.

That said, Rawlings has also spent most of his first term in office trying to reform the DISD — despite the fact the mayor has no oversight over the school district. Spellings says Rawlings is far from alone on that front, which is why the new report card exists in the first place. In coming months, she says, it will likely become interactive, and will expand far beyond the 33 cities involved in the first go-round.

Rawlings, says Spellings, “is someone with a great big microphone to shine a spotlight on the district. Rawlings is a damned good spotlighter, and I say thank you for that. That’s what we want to do for this report card — make sure the mayors stay focused on these issues. And it’s not just because it’s nice and the moral thing to do, but if we don’t do this job well, the downstream and upstream results are going to affect every city. Crime, safety-net issues, work forces — they all lead to the schools. That’s why we need mayors engaged in this discussion now.”

“Around this hotel today you hear about mayors working at the state level, asking for this or demanding that,” he says. Rawlings says. “I am a data nerd. I love this stuff. And I want to make sure the mayors are going to be as engaged as I am.”

Read the full article here.

Rock Paper Scissors!

“Don’t throw rock first.” That was our only strategy in preparing for Playworks DC’s Rock Paper Scissors Tournament.

On Giving Tuesday, December 2, a team from Collaborative Communications let out their inner children and had a blast competing in at Playworks DC’s Rock Paper Scissors Tournament!

This fun event was also for a great cause – supporting Playworks DC. Playworks DC serves more than 7,300 students in 18 schools across the District, teaching valuable skills like teamwork and cooperation through structured recess. By incorporating play into school hours, particularly in neighborhoods that lack safe places to play or access to organized sports, kids have an opportunity for physical activity and learning to deal with conflict and are better able to focus in the classroom. Learn more about this great program!

What’s your rock, paper, scissors strategy?