In September, we wrote about additions to our school information. With the addition of two school data providers, Niche and SchoolDigger, we now offer 20 years of enrollment data, 27 million opinions and reviews from students and parents, and much more. In an effort to shed more light on these new partners, we developed a brief Q&A. We welcome your feedback and additional questions in the comments section. Our goal is to provide the most comprehensive school information while being transparent with our sources and methodology.
Who are the new school data providers?
The new school data providers are Niche and SchoolDigger. Niche was founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University and is now one of the largest content startups in the country. SchoolDigger, founded in 2006, has a database with detailed profiles for over 136,000 schools nationwide.
Why did Onboard make the switch to SchoolDigger and Niche?
This partnership enables Onboard to provide better, more recent school content and more qualitative ratings so our clients can offer a more comprehensive look at schools.
In addition, our new vendors provide more frequent updates which allows Onboard to deliver more current school data to clients. Our clients can be confident they have the most up-to-date and accurate school information.
Where does SchoolDigger get its data?
Public school test scores come from the state Department of Education.
How are the Test Score Ratings calculated?
SchoolDigger ranks schools based on test scores supplied by each state's Department of Education. An Average Standard Score is calculated by normalizing and averaging each school's test scores across all tests and grades. That average score is then sorted. Additional details on SchoolDigger’s ranking methodology can be found here.
What is SchoolDigger’s coverage like compared to other vendors?
SchoolDigger covers roughly 97% of all public schools in the United States.
Note: Only schools that have published test scores from that state's Department of Education are ranked. Many states do not publish test scores for student populations of ten or less. Private schools are not listed since they are usually not required to administer state tests.
Why are some districts not ranked?
Some districts are not ranked because there is not enough information to rank them. For districts with 9 or fewer schools, 50% of the schools must have a SchoolDigger ranking to be included. For districts with 10 or more schools, 30% of the schools must have a SchoolDigger ranking to be included.
Where does Niche’s data come from?
Niche.com’s content comes from a variety of sources, including student, parent, and resident surveys, school administrators and government databases.
Niche seems to have fewer reviews than other vendors out there. Is that expected?
It’s true that other vendors have more overall reviews. However, Niche provides more recent review content than any other source on the market. Niche has seven times more 2014/2015 reviews than GreatSchools, for example. Consumers care more about recent data on schools than the quantity of data available. What people are saying about the school today or in the last few years is a more important factor when making the decision on where your children should attend school.
Did the school and district profile of the school data Onboard provides change with this addition?
No. Our robust profile data still provides: school contact info, class size, programs available, educational climate index, school spending, student/teacher ratio, etc. A complete summary of school information offered at Onboard can be found here.
Why not use test scores as a way to measure school performance?
We believe test scores are a valuable metric but shouldn’t be the only metric. In order to provide the most comprehensive school information, we want to provide more than just test scores.
Still have questions?
We want to hear from you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write us in the comments section below.
Onboard helps increase sales opportunities by engaging consumers with local content. In order for this content to be effective, it must be robust, accurate, and up-to-date. We believe the addition of these school data providers will create a more fulfilling, engaging experience for your consumers and will open up the possibilities for what you and your team will be able to do with this data.
If you have questions on the power of local data, please contact us today. Stay tuned for more enhancements coming in 2016.