Schoolhouse Pollster

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Schoolhouse Pollster

Boston, United States
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Idea
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Schoolhouse Pollster administer polls to capture the voices of ALL school stakeholders - teachers, students, parents, and non-instructional staff. Thus providing decision-makers with 360 degrees of the quantitative and qualitative data needed to make informed decisions.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we actually asked teachers, parents, and students what they think can improve their schools?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Teachers, parents, students and staff members don't have a way to share the true realities of school without risking political backlash or simply not being acknowledged. Yet collectively, they have all the answers to improve our schools. Decision makers have no way to determine if test score data or one-sided evaluations truly reflect a healthy school environment where students are able to thrive or how to create those environments.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Schoolhouse Polls is an app and web portal designed to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback from teachers, non-instructional staff, students and parents. To bridge the feedback gap, users will be able to sign up for anonymous profiles, the only identifier being their school. At important milestones throughout the year (i.e. during standardized testing) as well as ordinary days, a sample of users will receive poll questions regarding everything from how supported they felt by leadership or if their teacher was present. Over time, data can be compared to other indicators such as test scores or graduation rates to recognize what previously unmeasured factors influence student success and what schools should do differently.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

As a teacher, I felt powerless. My school was rated exemplary, but we lacked resources, my principal was not supportive, students were frustrated by being taught to the test, and parents told me they felt disrespected by my colleagues. My attempt to reach out to district leadership for help resulted in a very negative relationship with my principal. Schoolhouse Polls would have changed this drastically. Overtime leadership would have noticed that my school often lacked supplies, students were generally unhappy, and parents did not feel welcome. They would have been able to recognize that our high test scores were a result of drilling and regurgitation, not true life-long learning in a healthy learning environment.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Students now have a voice to share what they enjoy about their school day and what they do not. Each poll question can shed light onto the reasons why students exhibit behaviors instead of emphasizing the what. Parents can share their opinions more frequently. Teachers now can share without fear of negative repercussions. It also provides context to different work environments which aids in evaluating fairly. Receptionists and other non-instructional staff often have significant contact with teachers, parents and students, yet they are consistently left out of the conversation. They are often the best observers of school culture and now we can learn from their insights. Decision makers have comprehensive data to generate effective solutions. As all stakeholders see their feedback implemented, they feel like their voices matter and our schools become healthier communities.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Initial funding will be sourced from competitions and donations. Revenue will come from clients that purchase it. Since ongoing management of polling results will be required, revenue from these services will be continuous after the initial sale.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Existing approaches are typically one-off surveys done after certain events. They rarely include feedback from all stakeholders involved. There also often lacks the anonymity that is needed to generate honest responses without fear of repercussions. This is a new approach to surveys and while schools are the target market, education focused foundations may also be interested because they are struggling to develop sufficient metrics to measure the impacts of the programs they fund.
Team

Founding Story

Over the past few months I worked on a project for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. The goal was to find ways to increase family and community engagement. To understand the problem, my team administered surveys to parents, students, and principals. Once we actually asked the questions, the quantitative and qualitative responses clearly displayed what we were doing well and what we could do better. I realized it was ridiculous to wait so long to find solutions that were provided by people we interact with everyday. Who would've thought that to increase parental engagement, all we had to do was ask the parents what they wanted and proceed accordingly? If we want good answers, let's begin by asking the right people good questions.
About You
About You
First Name

Michelle

Last Name

Millar

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name
Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, MA, Boston

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

This project could be adopted by school districts, state education agencies, and other organizations that have an interest in solutions to improve student achievement. The current trend is to support more data and emphasize teacher evaluations. However, data is still limited around who and what is reported. By convincing decision makers that this type of data would provide a more comprehensive story around school successes, or failures, there could be widespread adoption.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Political opposition could be a challenge if teachers feel this is another attempt to threaten their careers. The way it is portrayed and clear communication around how the tool can come to their aid will be necessary to overcome this concern. Also by ensuring the design supports anonymity.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Approximately 75 words left (450 characters).

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Ensure that feedback is representative of the entire population.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

Currently, any feedback from schools comes only from principals and test scores. The project makes feedback more representative, does so in a safer environment, and provides the information to organizations who can act on it.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?
What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?
What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.
If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?
What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?