Welcome to a new series on the GreatSchools blog called The Making of College Bound.
College Bound is our new program at GreatSchools, launching in beta this month, and we’d like to invite you to come with us for a behind-the-scenes look. Let's start by answering the question, Why College Bound?
As many readers know, GreatSchools is primarily known for its school information. One in three families turns to GreatSchools to search for the right school, track the performance of their children’s school, or get general information about K-12 education. Over the past decade, GreatSchools has emerged as the leading source of transparency about the performance of American K-12 schools. We’re very proud of this accomplishment, and we will continue to improve the quality and accessibility of our school information.
But we also know that much more needs to be done to inspire and guide the nation's parents to be effective champions of their children’s education at home and in their communities.
Several years ago, we began asking some key questions: Who is using GreatSchools? What impact are we having? For whom? What else can we do to help close the achievement gap — beyond helping families make informed choices about where to send their kids?
During that exploration, we learned that we have less impact on low-income families than we’d like and so have an opportunity — indeed an obligation — to reach further and inspire and guide those most in need of help.
So we allowed ourselves to dream: What could and should we do to make a more significant impact on low-income families? We wanted to continue to leverage our strength in online technology and media, but we recognized that we’d have to get closer to the customer to learn what we needed to learn. So we began to work in selected cities, including Dayton, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to understand deeply the ways that low-income parents are involved in their children’s education. We held focus groups, we did ethnographic research, and we created prototypes. We learned so much!
College Bound, an innovative online-offline parent-training program and support group, is what emerged from this process. And we’re really excited to bring it to the world beginning this month. Stay tuned. In the coming months, we’ll be sharing lots more about what College Bound is, how it works, and what we’re learning.