Great Schools and Other Educational Reviews-Based Platforms: Just How Accurate Are They?

For most parents, finding the best schools for their children is of the utmost importance. Many people choose where to buy or rent a home based on the reputation of the public schools; if they cannot choose where to live, they may opt out of the public school system if it fails to meet their standards.  In either case, parents need ways to gather information about local schools, both public and private, when deciding where to send their children. With the advent of educational reviews-based platforms, such as greatschools.org, ratings and reviews are easily accessible to anyone with a smartphone; but is the information provided by these websites really accurate?

How Are Schools Rated?

There are a variety of reviews-based platforms out there rating schools, including Great Schools, niche.com, and SchoolDigger, to name a few.  Each platform has its own formula for rating schools, but in general, the ratings are determined by data from the U.S. Department of Education and the state and local school department, including test scores,absenteeism rates, and student/teacher ratios.  Each platform uses its rating to give the viewer a snapshot of the school, but without knowing the formula behind the rating, it is impossible to know how accurate that rating is. Each platform determines its own values system, assigning more weight to some factors than others.  The ratings may not align with each family’s individual preferences; for example, one family may value diversity, but the ratings formula may be more heavily weighted toward test scores. Furthermore, since the ratings formulas are not readily available to the public, there is no way of knowing if or how the rating is skewed.  For the most reliable information, parents should look at the school’s data, typically available through the state’s department of education, themselves.

Are Reviews Reliable?

Humans tend to think in terms of stories and personal experiences, so many of these websites include a section for reviews.  Here, parents can read personal stories from parents and students who have attended the schools in question. But how reliable are these reviews?  A quick internet search reveals a litany of complaints about the reviews available on Great Schools and similar websites. Many parents complain that the review process is not transparent; there is no way of knowing if the available reviews include all reviews submitted, favorable or not.  Some parents allege that Great Schools failed to publish negative school reviews that they had posted. Others claim that Great Schools published their negative review, but only after editing it to make it appear less damaging. There is no way to know whether or not these claims are true, but they certainly make the point that the review process is not transparent.  Additionally, there is no mechanism to assess whether the reviews are valid and from actual parents. Finally, because the reviews are posted by those parents who make the effort to publish a review, the reviews can be easily biased in either direction by a few parents with strong opinions.

What About Learning-Based Companies?

Many working parents look for trustworthy and educational daycare, preschool, and extended day programs for their children.  Increasingly, learning-based companies that provide these services are being treated as part of the educational system, and are rated and reviewed as such.  Parents want to make an informed decision before placing their child in a program where they may spend hours a day. Ratings and reviews from parents whose children are currently enrolled or have participated in these programs provide helpful information to parents looking for a place for their children.  For example, Justin Craig Education, a United Kingdom-based company, was established in 1981 by Marilyn Craig and provides the highest quality revision courses and curriculums for children of all ages. Before a parent considers a program like this, it is likely they will consult online reviews and reviews-based platforms, to better inform their decision. In fact, Justin Craig Education has many reviews on their eKomi Certificate Page. Before publishing a review for Justin Craig Education, eKomi will confirm that it has been made by an actual parent of a Justin Craig pupil.

How Does eKomi Work?

In short, eKomi solicits and collects reviews from actual consumers who have used the services or products of a company. They then evaluate the review for authenticity and publish it to their website. Additionally, eKomi awards a special Seal of Approval to businesses for outstanding service and top reviews. Parents can look at the eKomi.com rating for a broad parent-based assessment of educational and childcare businesses and make an informed choice.

As the number of reviews-based platforms increases, so does the amount and availability of information.  But without transparency or a metric for ratings, this information can be biased or confusing. Verified ratings and reviews provide the most reliable source of information.  If you are looking for information on the schools in your area, look for verified ratings and reviews for a source you can trust.

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