Public Reporting’s Potential: A Platform for Conversations About School Data

Current school report cards provide a window into information about schools. But do they leave parents and other key stakeholders on the outside, looking in?

What if public reporting was the start of a conversation between communities and schools?

Collaborative Communications is focused on helping education organizations and state departments of education present complex information about students and schools in ways that raise expectations beyond compliance and enhance accessibility, usability and meaning for parents and communities.

To do this effectively, we begin by imagining a conversation about schools and learning where data inspires action by educators, administrators and communities, surfaces new questions and responds with specific, meaningful and actionable answers, and promotes ongoing parent and community engagement with public schools.

There is no one solution to public reporting that meets the needs of all networks of schools – one size doesn’t fit all. Public reporting must invite users to explore key pieces of information appropriate to the focus and character of each school and the grades served. Further, empowering and incentivizing school leaders, students and stakeholders to contribute to data about schools is as important as offering new and relevant information about the school as soon as it becomes available.

More than simply a repository of data, a dynamic online report card can be a living public forum for conversations about data and what’s happening in schools. Here are a few essential concepts to getting this right:

  • Sort and group school data so that it is organized to promote action and user understanding, while inviting users to drill deeper into the data by sequencing information complexity.
  • More than simply explaining what data is, include information that helps users understand context about the information and why it should matter to them.
  • Encourage users to ask questions about what they see to inform future enhancements and provide searchable responses that create a living and robust information base.

Collaborative Communications and Social Driver have been recognized by the My School Information Design Challenge, an initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) in partnership with Getting Smart and Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart and past president of the X PRIZE Foundation, in an effort to inform ways that public reporting can improve education.

Our imagining of more accessible, interactive and actionable school report cards has been named in the best summary, best trend data, and best user experience categories. See how we applied our approach to public reporting as the start of a conversation, vote on our team’s design and share your thoughts with us. Public voting lasts through Nov. 30.