Clark County parents can now access information about the performance of their children’s schools — even in Spanish and on a cellphone — through a new website created by a local education nonprofit.
The user-friendly data portal was launched this week by Opportunity 180, an education nonprofit founded in 2015. The database was created using state testing and demographic data on schools. The state site doesn’t work well on a mobile phone or provide information in Spanish, which led Opportunity 180 to add those features in an effort to increase parent engagement.
Right now, the site only includes information about Clark County schools, but the group hopes to expand it statewide.
“We all agree that parents are schools’ No. 1 partner,” Jana Wilcox Lavin, Opportunity 180’s acting executive director, said of the website. “It really helps create a much stronger connection between parents and educators.”
Wilcox Lavin is the former superintendant of the Achievement School District, a state initiative in 2015 designed to partner underperforming traditional public schools with charter schools in an effort to increase student performance. She left the position to join Opportunity 180 as its acting director in the spring.
Nonprofit expands its mission
Founded by former Nevada Board of Education member Allison Serafin in 2015, Opportunity 180 was granted special status to recruit charter schools into the state. Serafin left the organization at the beginning of the year, relocating to be closer to family.
But the nonprofit’s mission has moved beyond just recruiting charters, officials said. It wants to help increase parent engagement and increase the number of “seats” in high-quality schools available to students in Nevada, which officials said also means doing more than recruiting charters.
“I would say the three big things are building a culture of school quality, which is one we think the data tool can support; doing more of what’s working; and then providing more access, which is when communities don’t have access to high-quality seats, helping find a way to bring those seats to the community,” Wilcox Lavin said.
Before the official data launch, Opportunity 180 officials tested the site with educators and parents, said Lisa Coruzzi, the communications and special projects manager. As a result of that testing, they were able to add a comparison feature to the site
“We built in a feature where they could compare how that school is doing side-by-side to another elementary, middle or high school,” Coruzzi said.
Since the launch, the organization has received a few questions about pre-kindergarten. The state data covers kindergarten through grade 12, so officials are now building a resource section to direct parents to more information about pre-K, Coruzzi said.
“We’re going to try to be as dynamic and responsive as possible,” Wilcox Lavin said. “In many ways, it’s kind of an interactive process.”
State Department of Education spokesman Greg Bortolin said the tool complements the state’s presentation of the data.
“Anything that gets data into parents’ hands so they can make informed decisions about their kids is a good thing,” he said.