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Detroit Parents Can Use New Website to Compare School Ratings, Programs

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A new website is aimed at providing Detroit parents with multiple measures to find the "right" school for their children.

Excellent Schools Detroit, a local coalition of philanthropic, education, and city leaders, in partnership with GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that assists parents find schools and educational resources, developed GreatSchoolsDetroit.org to give parents the ability to compare school ratings, services, and programs, according to a news release. Detroit Deputy Mayor Ike McKinnon helped introduce the website during a press conference Tuesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

GreatSchools, which is headquartered in Oakland, Calif., started to develop local collaborations with community-based organizations last year to provide more in-depth information about schools for parents on its school-ratings website, GreatSchools.org. Detroit, according to the release, is the first of these new partnership to launch a website.

GreatSchools' new local partnerships will enable school profiles to include more comprehensive education-quality measures that reach beyond tests scores, including graduation rates, college enrollment data, and more reviews and comments from parents and educators, Alan Simpson, a spokesman with GreatSchools, told me in an email. He said that GreatSchools would adapt its test-score data as more school districts administer new common-core-aligned assessments to their students.

Much like online tools used in searching for a new house, the website gives users the ability to refine their search using a variety of factors. For example, parents can choose to search for public, public charter, or private schools by specific grade level. Parents can refine their search by choosing specific support services, such as for English-language learners, and school focus, like gifted programs. The website also gives parents the opportunity to compare schools.

The website features information from Excellent Schools Detroit's Scorecard, which according to the release, provides detailed city school profiles and tracks academic progress and school climate. The nonprofit recommends that parents choose schools earning a Scorecard grade of at least C+. Parents can consider the Scorecard grades along with the 10-point rating system generated by GreatSchools.org during their school search.

"Excellent Schools Detroit's in-depth knowledge of and data on Detroit education environments and their deep connections with schools, community groups, and parent organizations provides the localized insights that parents need," Bill Jackson, chief executive officer of GreatSchools, said in the release.

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