Latest News

Looking For A Home? You’ve Seen GreatSchools Ratings. Here’s How They Nudge Families Toward Schools With Fewer Black And Hispanic Students.

What’s the right way to judge a school?

Across the country, states and school districts have devised their own systems of letter grades and color-coded dashboards based on test scores and graduation rates. But arguably the most visible and influential school rating system in America comes from the nonprofit GreatSchools, whose 1-10 ratings appear in home listings on national real estate websites Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin. Forty-three million people visited GreatSchools’ site in 2018, the organization says; Zillow and its affiliated sites count more than 150 million unique visitors per month.

GreatSchools’ stated mission is to help all parents, especially those who are low-income, make more informed decisions about where to send their children to school.

But GreatSchools ratings effectively penalize schools that serve largely low-income students and those serving largely black and Hispanic students, generally giving them significantly lower ratings than schools serving more affluent and more white and Asian students, a Chalkbeat analysis found.

And yet, according to GreatSchools’ own data, many schools serving low-income, black, and Hispanic populations are doing a good job helping students learn math and English. But those schools still face long odds of getting an above-average rating on GreatSchools — likely because their students are arriving far behind.