Top Marks for School Report Card Open Innovation Contest

Published Apr-06-15

Open innovation contest garners novel designs for the next generation of school report cards that use mobile and internet technologies.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, United States

The Story:

Top Marks for School Report Card Open Innovation Contest Crowdsourcing is nothing new. Humankind has been pooling its brainpower ever since we first rubbed sticks together to create fire. What has changed in recent years is that the internet has provided solution seekers with easy and instant access to problem solvers throughout countries and across the world. And an effective way to get some of those solvers firing on all cognitive cylinders is with prize based open innovation competitions.

School Report Cards Could Do Better

Inspired by the effectiveness and success of crowdsourcing, the Education Commission of the States and the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) launched a challenge to designers and interested parties in the United States to come up with a new school report card.

Research had shown the education advocacy organization that report cards in many US states were inaccessible and confusing to parents. They were struggling to understand how their own children were doing in the classroom and how schools were faring against other education establishments.

“State departments of education across the country have been grappling with how to present complex student and school performance data in a user-friendly format that is accessible across multiple platforms, while meeting federal and state requirements,” said Patricia Levesque, CEO of ExcelinEd.

Rethinking Report Cards

The challenge required participants to rethink and reimagine how to present school report card to parents, teachers, policymakers and other stakeholders in a way that best uses 21st-century technology and is accessible and easy to understand.

Specifically, the contest asked innovators to:

• Improve the visualization of report card information
• Design innovative ways to give parents easy to understand and actionable
• Create a design that leverages mobile technologies

Furthermore, the cards had to include the following components: student achievement, student academic growth, achievement gap closure, graduation rates and post-secondary and career readiness.

As a juicy incentive for participation, up to $35,000 in prize money was made available.

Awarding Marks

Submissions were assessed by a panel of judges and finalists were also voted on by the public.

First place and a check for $15,000 went to Collaborative Communications and Social Driver for a report card that promotes ongoing engagement with schools. Among its key features are an option to receive email updates, biography and photo of the school contact, a dashboard that can be modified for each school's needs, a record of conversations and an easy-to-read layout of key data.

Second place and a check for $10,000 was award to Rennzer for a platform that provides more intelligent presentation and easier access to key metrics about student and school performances, including historical data.

There were also four favorites as voted for by the public. They shared $10,000 of prize money.

The Next Steps

The open innovation exercise resulted in lots of new ways of visualising report card data and making it more presentable and digestible. As of March 2015, some competitors are discussing their innovations with various states. Also, ExcelinEd advocates are sharing details of winning designs with state authorities and helping them to take their next steps to improve school reports.

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