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Frequently Asked Questions


GreatSchools 101

What is the purpose of GreatSchools?
To improve K-12 education by inspiring parents to get involved.

When was GreatSchools founded?
Bill Jackson, a former teacher, founded GreatSchools in 1998 to catalyze parent involvement — a force that he believed was vital to the process of achieving excellence in education.

Where does GreatSchools get its funding?
GreatSchools receives generous support from leading foundations that share our goal of empowering parents to support their children’s education, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robertson Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. GreatSchools also generates funding through our advertising and content licensing programs.

Can GreatSchools help my family if we move?
We sure can. You can look up the best schools in the area you are moving to by ZIP code, school district or city name.

Why should I join GreatSchools?
While all visitors can access school data, expert advice, articles, and our community content, we invite users to register with us so they can publish, post, and connect with members of our online parent community. This makes for a truly interactive and rewarding experience. Join GreatSchools and become a parent ambassador to represent your children’s schools on the GreatSchools Web site for the benefit of other interested parents.

How can I join GreatSchools?
Registration is easy – and free. When you register, you have the chance to tell GreatSchools a bit about you and your family, which in turn helps us put you in touch with resources that can help you navigate your child’s education.


Find the right school using GreatSchools data

School data – public & charter schools

What types of schools does GreatSchools.org provide profiles for?
GreatSchools.org profiles more than 100,000 public elementary, middle and high schools in the United States. Charter schools, magnet schools, year-round schools, and some continuation and alternative schools are included as well.

In addition, GreatSchools.org includes basic information on more than 50,000 private schools. This information is limited because private schools are not required to give tests or report results.

Exactly what does a school profile include?
Public school profiles in every state include most or all of the following information:

In addition, all schools have the option of “upgrading”–at no cost–to an Official School Profile, which allows school principals and administrators to add information about curriculum, programs, activities, and photos.

Where does GreatSchools get its data?
Public school test scores for most states come from the state Department of Education. School contact information and teacher/student statistics are obtained from both the state Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Why do some states have more school information than others?
We publish school data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, State Departments of Education vary widely in the amount and type of data they release, so the specific data points we are able to acquire may be somewhat different from state to state.

How often is school information updated?
Our goal is to update all data at least once a year in every state, using the most recent available information from either the state Department of Education or the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Information on Official School Profiles (OSPs) is updated as often as school principals choose to edit their information.

What should I do if I see incorrect information on your site?
We strive to keep our school information up to date, but we realize there may be changes that are not reflected in our data. If you see any school information, such as contact information, that you know to be incorrect, please take the following steps, so that we can provide our users with the best possible information:

What if I know of a public or charter school that is not listed on GreatSchools.org?
We rely on state Departments of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for our school directory and are unable to add public or charter schools individually to our Web site. If a public or charter school is missing from our site, it is usually because these data sources failed to provide the information. If you know of a public or charter school that is not listed, we recommend that you contact the appropriate state Department of Education to ask them to list the school. We are working to expand our capabilities so that our school listings are always completely current.

Where can I find information about teachers, students, school events, and job opportunities at a certain school, or get copies of transcripts?
GreatSchools is not directly connected to any particular school and cannot relay your questions or comments to school officials. We do not have information about current or former students or staff at any school or employment with a particular school or district. Contact the school directly for this type of information.

How can I get a custom report based on the data shown on GreatSchools.org?
All requests for custom reports based on our data should be directed to bizdev@greatschools.org. Be sure to let us know if you are a nonprofit or for-profit organization and how you intend to utilize our data. Please note, a fee may be charged to cover our processing costs.


School data – private schools

Why does GreatSchools have less information about private schools than public schools?
Unlike Public schools, private schools are not funded with public money, so they do not have to report data about their schools or make it available to the public. We continuously strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Where does GreatSchools get its private school information?
Our private school information comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and some state Departments of Education.

What if I know of a private school that is not listed on GreatSchools.org?
If you know of a private school that is not listed, please submit the school’s information to us. Note: We can add private schools individually, but do not have the resources to add public or charter schools individually.

Can the school principal send GreatSchools new information that isn’t otherwise available?
Once a private school is listed on our site, the school’s principal may provide additional information, free of charge, through our Official School Profile feature. School leaders can request access here to edit the profile.

Where can I find additional data, such as test scores and teacher experience, about private schools?
Contact the schools directly. You will find contact information for private schools on our school profiles.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about our school information.


School data – preschools

Where does GreatSchools get its preschool information?
Our preschool information comes from Market Data Retrieval (MDR), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and some state Departments of Education.

Why does GreatSchools have less information about preschools than K-12 schools?
Unlike K-12 schools, preschools are not regulated or tracked by any state or national data provider. We continuously strive to acquire additional preschool data whenever available.

What if I know of a preschool that is not listed on GreatSchools?
If you know of a preschool that is not listed, please submit the school’s information to us.

Where can I find additional data about preschools?
Contact the preschools directly. You will find contact information for preschools on our school profiles.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about our school information.


GreatSchools ratings

How are the GreatSchools Ratings calculated?
GreatSchools analyzes each school’s performance on state standardized tests and provides a one-through-ten rating for the school’s performance relative to other schools in the state. Our ratings also allow you to compare the performance of particular grade levels and groups of students to comparable groups in other schools in the state. A rating of “10” means that the group’s test scores are in the top 10% compared to scores for the same group across all schools in the state. In other words, that group’s test score performance is as good as, or better than, 90% of the scores for that group in the state. A rating of “1” means that the group is in the bottom 10% compared to scores for that group across all schools in the state. Learn more about GreatSchools Ratings.

GreatSchools’ Overall Ratings are calculated by averaging the ratings for each grade and subject. A Test Score Rating is not given if fewer than 50 schools have data for a particular group. The different student groups (category, ethnicity and gender) are identified by the state Department of Education; if there is a small number of students in a particular group in a school, data is not reported for that group.

Please keep in mind that it’s important to factor in information other than Test Score Ratings, including the quality of each school’s teachers, the school culture and special programs, when evaluating a school. Also note that GreatSchools Ratings are not linked to any performance ratings given by the state Department of Education.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about our ratings.


Official school profiles

What is an Official School Profile and is it free?
An Official School Profile is absolutely free. It allows the principal or other school official to add the following information about the school directly to their GreatSchools.org profile:

As an added bonus, the Official School Profile also lets the principal or other school official edit the school’s contact information directly, in the event that the school’s address or phone number has changed since we last updated it.

Why do I need an Official School Profile for my school?
GreatSchools.org is the most visited K-12 education Web site in the country, attracting thousands of people every day. Parents, community leaders, potential volunteers, funders, teachers and people looking for education jobs will have access to information that you provide about your school. You can use your profile to draw attention to your school’s successes and unique qualities, and even point your school community straight to your GreatSchools profile to gather important information. It’s a great way to spread the word about your school to a broader audience, even if you already have a school Web site.

How do I create an Official School Profile?
Creating an Official School Profile is simple! Principals and school officials, get started on your Official School Profile by requesting a school official’s account. Our team will manually verify your affiliation with the school to ensure that only authorized individuals may edit your school’s information.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about Official School Profiles.


City and school district data

What type of city information does GreatSchools offer?
GreatSchools includes most or all of the following information for cities:

What does a school district profile include?
School district profiles in every state include most or all of the following information:


School and district boundary map

What are your disclaimer terms for School and District Boundaries Map?
Not all school and district boundaries are included. We strive to ensure that all data and information is accurate, however, the data and visualization tools are for general informational purposes only. To verify legal descriptions of boundaries or to determine school locations or attendance, please contact the school or school district directly.

What is the source of the information that appears in the School and District Boundaries Map?
The boundary information is provided to GreatSchools by Maponics. It is compiled from various sources and is for general informational purposes only. School attendance zone information is subject to change throughout the year. To verify legal descriptions of boundaries or to determine school locations or attendance, please contact the school or school district directly.

How often is this data updated?
The School and District Boundaries information is updated four times each year.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about Official School Profiles.


The new and improved GreatSchools

What is the “new and improved” GreatSchools?
We are rolling out major improvements to our school pages in key states that provide rich data. These enhancements are designed to give you a fuller picture of the schools you may be considering. Features include:

To make sure your school is ready for its close-up, encourage your principal to complete a free Official School Profile today.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about our ratings.


Parent survey information

What exactly is a Parent Survey?
The survey allows parents to add the following information directly to their school’s GreatSchools profile:


Comparing schools

How do I compare schools?
You can compare schools that are near a certain address, or within a specific district, county or state. Just click on the “Compare Schools” link at the top of any school profile or visit the tab ‘Research & Compare‘ to get started. It’s possible to compare schools in different counties by saving schools to My School List, then comparing those schools.

Can I compare schools in different states?
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to compare student achievement across states because different states administer different standardized tests.

Why are private schools missing so much data?
Private schools are not required by law to publish the same information as public schools.

My school list

My School List is a tool that lets you compile a list of schools, save and compare them. To build a list, go to any school profile on GreatSchools.org and click on the link, “Add this school to My School List,” next to the name of the school. Once you have a list of schools, you can easily compare the schools in your list.

Didn’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact us about comparing schools.


GreatSchools mobile website

How do I go back and forth between the mobile website and the full site?
When you visit GreatSchools.org from a smart phone, you will automatically see our mobile-optimized website. To view the full site, tap on the View Full Site button at the bottom of the mobile web page. From the full site, return to the mobile website by clicking on Go to Mobile Site link in the top right area of the page.

Why aren’t all the GreatSchools.org features and tools available on the mobile site?
Currently, we have made the most popular GreatSchools features and tools available on the mobile website. Over time, we plan to add more features and articles to the mobile site.

Why can’t I “sign in” to my GreatSchools account on the mobile website?
Sign In has not yet been made available on our mobile website. To access your account information, tap the View Full Site button at the bottom of the mobile web page and click the Sign In link in the top right area of the page.

Why don’t the schools I saved on the mobile website match the schools in My School List on the full site?
When visiting the mobile website, saved schools are stored on your mobile phone only. On the full website, “My School List” is saved to your Greatschools member account. At this time, your account information is only available when visiting our full website. In the future, you will be able to manage a single list on both sites by signing in to your account.


Expert advice and newsletters

What type of content can I find on your site?
GreatSchools has more than 1,000 articles on a range of topics relevant to parents of preschoolers to high school students. Written by our expert staff and consultants, the articles explain in parent-friendly terms such timely topics as how to choose a school, and understand test scores and report cards; how to work with your child’s teacher, what your child’s curriculum should be grade by grade, and what to do if your child is the victim of bullying.

What newsletters does GreatSchools provide?
We publish free email newsletters to help you help your child succeed in school. You can subscribe to newsletters for your child’s school and/or grade level, and get timely tips and advice.