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Education Trust-Midwest Statement on MME results

Today the state’s release of the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) and ACT College Readiness Assessment results reveal slight progress in achievement among Michigan high school students. Unfortunately, the state is still struggling with low achievement, while large achievement gaps remain among African-American, Latino and low-income students.
High school achievement has been one of the few hopeful areas of achievement for Michigan. Fourth-grade and eighth-grade learning levels are among the lowest in the country for student progress compared to other states over the last ten years, as Ed Trust-Midwest’s “2014 State of Michigan Education” report showed. Ed Trust-Midwest is a non-partisan research and policy organization dedicated to raising student learning for all Michigan students.
Today’s results show slight improvement in learning overall. However, Michigan is still seeing low levels of learning overall, and exceedingly low learning levels for some groups of students.
“While we are glad to see some progress, we know that we can do better for our students,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of Ed Trust-Midwest, in response to today’s release. “There are many states that we can look to for models of how to dramatically raise learning for all children.
“The good news is, our state leaders are committed to proven strategies to improve our public schools, including the implementation of college- and career-ready standards and teacher support and evaluation,” she added. “The Michigan Merit Curriculum – and of course, the Michigan educators teaching the rigorous curriculum -- deserve credit for the improvement we’re seeing in learning overall.”
In most subjects, the persistent gaps between groups of students remain large. For example, there is a 27.6 percentage point gap in proficiency between African-American students compared to white students in MME math. The black-white gap is similarly wide in other subjects. The proficiency gap between low-income and higher-income students is 25.8 percentage points in MME reading.
In addition to considerable achievement gaps among groups of students, today’s release also exposes significantly low levels of performance on the MME:
      *Only six percent of African-American students are proficient in 11th grade MME math statewide. This is virtually unchanged from years past.? 
      *Statewide, Latino 11th grade students made gains in MME reading, jumping from 37.7% proficient in 2011 to 45.4% in 2014. Similarly, low-income students jumped from 35.1% proficient in 2011 to 43% in 2014.? 
      *Among Detroit Public School (DPS) African-American students, only 6.1% were proficient in 11th grade math. At the same time, Grand Rapids Public Schools (4.4%), Saginaw School District (4%), Flint Public Schools (2.3%), and Pontiac School District (1.4%) all had smaller percentages of African-American students reaching proficiency in MME math.? 
      *In 11th grade reading, 41.9% of Latino students were proficient at DPS. Similar to math, school districts like Cesar Chavez Academy (33.6%), Grand Rapids Public Schools (28.8%), and Pontiac School District (24.6%), all had fewer percentages of Latino students scoring proficient in reading. 
The MME and ACT assessments are used to gauge whether Michigan high school students are meeting academic standards in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies.
Today’s release also includes data on how Michigan students performed on the ACT test – an important measure of students’ readiness for college. While student achievement on the ACT has inched up since the adoption of the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum – countering opponents’ concerns that students could not meet the more rigorous expectations – the results still reveal that most Michigan high school students are not being prepared for college or for jobs in a 21st Century knowledge economy.

      *17.8% of 11th grade students statewide were proficient in the ACT exam for all subjects.? 
      *At Detroit Public Schools, just 2.7% of students were proficient on the ACT in all subjects.? 
      *Grand Rapids Public Schools had only 10% of its 11th graders proficient on the ACT in all subjects.? 
      *Statewide, only 2.6% of African-American students, 7.9% of Latino students, and 6.5% of low-income students scored proficient on the ACT in all subjects.? 
      *There is an 18.4 percentage point gap in proficiency statewide between African-American and white students on the ACT in all subjects. 
The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan's only statewide, non-partisan education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students. Our mission is to work for the high achievement of all students, particularly low-income, African-American, Latino and American-Indian students in Michigan, and to provide honest, reliable education information and expertise to our state's families and policymakers.

Statement from The Education Trust-Midwest on the U.S. Dept. of Educationís Teacher Equity Strategy

Today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced his intention to focus new energy on the problem of unequal access to quality teachers. Congress first outlawed this practice in 2002.  But that provision of federal law has mostly been ignored. 
“We hope today’s action provides Michigan a fresh opportunity to do better on this issue at the state and district level,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.  “For too long, our tendency to assign the strongest teachers disproportionately to our most advantaged students has compromised the futures of millions of low-income students and students of color.”
Research tells us why this issue is so important to students of color and low-income children:
      *According to a national survey of teachers, core classes in our nation’s high-poverty schools are twice as likely to be taught by out-of-field teachers as are classes in low-poverty schools.  ? 
      *Researchers found that in Washington State, disadvantaged students get less than their fair share of the strongest teachers, regardless of the measure used.? 
      *An Ed Trust—West analysis shows that in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Latino and African-American students are two to three times more likely to have low-performing teachers than their white and Asian peers.
“As long as these teacher quality gaps persist, we will never achieve our national values of equity and opportunity for all Americans,” Arellano said. “Thankfully, these gaps are not inevitable. Michigan leaders and school districts can take steps to get strong teachers to the low-income students and students of color who need and deserve them.”
Arellano added: “It’s important to note Michigan’s on-going work to improve teacher evaluation practices, teacher preparation, and licensure.  They are necessary and important, though it is not enough.  They are first steps toward raising the quality of the teaching profession, but they will not ensure that students of color and low-income students get more of the strongest teachers. That will only happen with targeted action that expects, prioritizes, and removes barriers to equitable access.”
Some states and districts are already leading the way and can serve as exemplars.
      *Through their Strategic Staffing Initiative, the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District has been working for years to get especially strong principals and teachers to its highest poverty schools. ? 
      *In partnership with Teach Plus, Boston Public Schools and the District of Columbia Public Schools are working to attract and retain strong teachers to the lowest performing schools by providing opportunities for shared decision-making and career growth through formal teacher leadership roles.? 
      * Florida prohibits districts from disproportionately assigning poorly performing and out-of-field teachers to the lowest performing schools. 

Deborah Veney Robinson, vice president for government affairs at The Education Trust, said:
“These states and districts haven’t yet solved the problem of equitable access – but they’ve moved in the right direction by asserting responsibility and taking action. Done well, the Department’s teacher equity strategy can make this kind of leadership the rule rather than the exception. The nation’s low-income students and students of color have already waited far too long for action.”  
 “To be sure, there are outstanding teachers in every community and every school,” Robinson added. “But the evidence is clear: any way the data are analyzed — by teacher experience, content knowledge, churn, absenteeism, or effectiveness at growing student learning — low-income students and students of color get less than their white, more affluent peers.”
The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan's only state-wide, non-partisan education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students. Our mission is to work for the high achievement of all students, particularly low-income, African-American, Latino and American-Indian students in Michigan, and to provide honest, reliable education information and expertise to our state's families and policymakers.

Nonprofit wins $2.4M grant for families in poverty

A foundation is committing $2.4 million to a local nonprofit help “raise vulnerable children and families out of poverty” in Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods.

LINC Community Revitalization in Grand Rapids said today that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek awarded the grant to the nonprofit, which targets Grand Rapids' Southtown neighborhood.

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Michigan schools' finances "stabilizing," says state superintendent

Late last year, the state’s top education official had dire predictions for the finances of Michigan schools. He predicted the number of districts in deficit could reach 100 “before long.”

Now, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says the situation is stabilizing, and he credits increased funding from the state.

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University Prep Schools Partners with Detroit Yacht Club to Launch First-ever Sailing Program

University Prep Schools, one of Detroit’s longest-standing charter school systems, today announced an all-new sailing program in partnership with the Detroit Yacht Club. Continuing its commitment to access, opportunity and experience, U Prep Schools will offer the four-week class to 25 of its University Prep Science & Math (UPSM) middle and high school students this summer. Given its STEAM curriculum, the school system will pilot the program within the UPSM district, as an extracurricular supplement to the students’ science and engineering coursework. The program, which was made possible by an initial anonymous donation of $100,000, is slated to run from July 7 to August 1.
“We are really looking to change the game when it comes to urban education in Detroit; not only in the classroom, but beyond,” said Mark Ornstein, CEO of University Prep Schools, which oversees operations at UPSM and its sister district, University Prep Academy. “University Prep Schools’ students deserve every advantage and opportunity afforded students with significantly more resources. With the help of the community and that of the Detroit Yacht Club, we’re leveling the playing field with this program.”
The first partnership of its kind, University Prep Schools and the Detroit Yacht Club will launch the program in conjunction with the club’s prestigious Junior Sailing Program. UPSM students will learn the basics of the sport from some of the club’s most noted instructors and returning sailing program alumni. Students were required to apply to participate in UPSM’s inaugural sailing club and were selected based on both academic performance and essay compilation. University Prep Schools received more than 30 applications from across its STEAM district and culled the applications down to the allotted 25 seats.
“We could not be more thrilled to be able to offer this program in partnership with University Prep Schools,” said Commodore Frederick Carr of the Detroit Yacht Club. “As one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious boating clubs, we have always offered our members a robust sailing program. To be able to share that opportunity with students who have a demonstrated interest in the sport and help further their learning in a meaningful way, is truly awesome.” Carr, once an educator himself, went on to note the importance of the science behind sailing and how he believes the sport can add practical, real-life value to learning beyond the classroom. 
The collaboration with Detroit Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program will afford UPSM students the opportunity to participate for at least the next five summers. While the anonymous donation will help to fund the startup costs associated with the program, the school system is still in need of donations to not only cover the costs associated with equipment, life jackets and materials for the students, but to ensure the longevity of the partnership.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to the Detroit Yacht Club and our generous donor for making this program a reality,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, Chief External Relations Officer at University Prep Schools. “When people realize the importance of education and how much the little things can change a child’s life, everyone benefits. Sailing is a fun way to infuse rigorous STEM content into an extracurricular activity and demonstrate a practical application of math and science. Such real world connections make learning more powerful, improve retention and stimulate a student's desire to learn more."
University Prep Schools has long been working to build its athletic offering for UPSM students. Its liberal arts-focused district, University Prep Academy (UPA) has established more competitive traditional sports teams for both male and female students. While UPSM has seen successes with its high school football team, the district is actively building more non-traditional sports programs. The sailing program is just one of the “college prep” sports that school leadership will add to its roster in the next academic year. Prior to building out the inaugural sailing club, University Prep Schools facilitated an exploratory stage to gauge parent support. UPSM parents were surveyed over the course of a month, and were largely supportive of the initiative. Results of the survey, however, indicated a few barriers to participating in the program including the ability to swim and transportation to and from the island. As a result, the school has engaged key community partners such as Safeway, which will provide transportation to and from the sailing class for participating UPSM students for the duration of the program. The Boll Family YMCA has also agreed to provide swim classes at minimal to no cost for the students accepted into the program. University Prep Schools and the Detroit Yacht Club will continue to seek support from the community to ensure the program’s continued growth.
To make a donation to the University Prep Schools sailing program, please visit the school’s recently launched Indiegogo page. For additional information about how to support the program, visit uprepschools.com/get-involved.
About University Prep Schools

Known as one of Detroit's longest-standing charter school systems,University Prep Schools (U Prep Schools) launched in 2000, with the opening of its first tuition-free public charter, University Prep Academy High School. Today, the University Prep Schools network is comprised of two districts, University Prep Academy (UPA) and University Prep Science & Math (UPSM), and seven campuses. Serving more than 3,000 students, the University Prep Schools system prepares students for the world around them through a unique combination of individualized and expeditionary learning models that extends education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. The schools foster a holistic approach to learning that is rooted in providing its students access, opportunity and success. Follow University Prep Schools on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UniversityPrepSchools and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UPrepSchools. For more information about University Prep schools, visit www.uprepschools.com.
About Detroit Yacht Club (DYC)
The Historic Detroit Yacht Club, founded in 1868, is one of the oldest private boating and social clubs in North America.  Dedicated to providing a variety of outstanding dining, social, recreational, and boating programs for members, families and guests, the DYC offers a wide range of elegant and casual dining options, full catering and event services, and various leisure, health and fitness and social amenities.  The club’s harbor facilities and service have been voted the ‘Best in Detroit’ and rank among the finest on the Great Lakes.  
Designed by noted architect George Mason and completed in 1922, the DYC clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and stands as one of the Midwest’s finest examples of Mediterranean Revival architecture. The clubhouse ranks as the largest yacht club structure in the United States and, presiding over the Detroit River just off of Belle Isle, is one of Detroit’s most distinguished buildings. 
For more information about the DYC, please call 313-824-1200 or visit www.dyc.com

Sandbox Party Joins with Michigan's Children and Focuses on Making Children's Issues Top Priorities

With a critical Michigan election season upon us, the Michigan Sandbox Party has joined forces with Michigan’s Children to raise awareness and make children and family issues top priorities in state political campaigns.
Michigan’s Children is the only statewide, multi-issue advocacy organization focused solely on public policy in the best interest of children, from cradle to career, and their families.  
Founded in 2010 as the action arm of Michigan’s early childhood community, the Sandbox Party – which will now become a project of Michigan’s Children – has expanded its advocacy to children of all ages with early childhood issues remaining an important focus.  The Sandbox Party has also redesigned its outreach and website at www.michigansandboxparty.org to an election-year focus in order to help generate excitement around children’s concerns and drive turnout in the upcoming primaries.
“Together, we are creating a powerful network to mobilize greater numbers of  constituents around the 2014 races and help educate voters about what’s at stake for children and families,” said Matt Gillard, President & CEO of Michigan’s Children.  This election year holds races for top jobs in Lansing and Washington D.C., including the Governor’s office, every House and Senate district in Michigan, U.S. Congressional and a pivotal U.S. Senate seat.
“Our goal is to engage more Michiganians, encourage them to learn about the candidates in their communities, get involved in the election process, and speak up for children’s issues, Gillard said.
“The Sandbox Party will add strength to Michigan’s Children’s already existing network of localized partners connected to programs that serve the state’s most challenged children and families – the same children and families impacted by the policy decisions made in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.,” he said.  “This expanded network of advocates throughout the state can fight for the best interests of children and hold candidates accountable for campaign promises made long after November. And that’s something we all believe is needed now more than ever.”
With its new election-focus, the Sandbox Party will first promote awareness around the August 5 primary.  Gillard said voting in primaries is notoriously low, often as low as 10 percent of registered voters, though in many districts primary elections will determine who is ultimately elected into public office.  To counter that, Gillard said it is important that voters understand where these primary candidates stand on issues that matter most to children and families. 
The new website will be an easy-to-use tool for individuals to understand the issues at play, the candidates, and how to get involved. Besides offering profiles of candidates and races, visitors to the redesigned michigansandboxparty.org website will be able to look up candidates running for office in their communities, a calendar of appearances by statewide and local candidates in their area, and a variety of other election-related news and information.
After the elections, the Sandbox Party website will transition to an outreach and engagement tool for Michigan’s Children’s networks to stay involved in public policy work by holding their elected officials accountable.

Editorial: Lawmakers need to finish work on grading teachers

Three years after the Legislature called for the creation of a statewide model for evaluating teachers and administrators, lawmakers are still a ways from realizing that goal. Crafting such a blueprint takes significant effort, but this is something the state needs to finish soon.

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Learning Network Provides $542,412 for Pre-Kindergarten in Kalamazoo

Children who live in the Kalamazoo Public Schools district will soon have better access to opportunities that will have them ready for kindergarten thanks to a major grant from The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo.
Kalamazoo County Ready 4s, in partnership with the Northside Committee, is receiving $542,412 for an early childhood initiative focusing on 3-year-olds and their families residing in the Northside and Douglas neighborhoods.
“We are confident that the work supported by this grant, with measurable impacts, will help change many lives,” says Amy Slancik, community investment officer for The Learning Network at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation
According to Tonia Smith, community advocate and co-chair of the Northside Committee, “Connecting with families from the beginning and building relationships will change families and the community. With these grant dollars, we are able to do more proactive work, instead of being reactive. I am so excited for these families, I can’t stop smiling.”
The Northside Committee/Kalamazoo County Ready 4s initiative will increase the number of children ready for kindergarten by providing high-quality developmental and educational opportunities. The grant will enable up to 60 3-year-olds to attend half or full-day pre-kindergarten; upgrade and equip facilities; provide transportation; and provide professional development for faculty and staff along with on-site teacher mentors. The grant will also provide additional resources for parenting programs.
Desired outcomes for the initiative include: Establish a minimum of two high-quality pre-kindergarten classrooms located in the Northside and Douglas neighborhoods and achieve and maintain high-quality standards in these classrooms. Teachers will effectively implement the adopted curriculum, using research-based, and best-practice instructional strategies in classroom management measured by fall and spring assessments.
The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, funded by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, works to create and sustain a culture of learning at home, in school, at work and throughout the community. The vision is to ensure that all children in Kalamazoo County will be ready for school, ready for post-secondary education, ready for a career and ready for the world. Learn more at www.thelearningnetwork.org.

Reducing infant mortality goal of city initiative


A three-year project to reduce infant mortality launched Wednesday in Detroit, where more babies die before their first birthday than in any of the nation’s largest cities.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided funding for creation of the Detroit Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes. The initiative is led by CityMatCH, a national organization of urban maternal/child health leaders. Local health and community leaders will form the Detroit Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes with guidance from CityMatCH.

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$1.3M to help metro Detroit families with employment, debt


Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and United Way for Southeastern Michigan announced that they have funded $1.3 million to eight sites within the Greater Detroit Centers for Working Families network that provide services to families facing unemployment or low incomes.

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YOUTH VOICE members leave Harriet Tubman Center after 80-mile walk for education to start YouthVoice

The youth members who were involved with the program YOUTH VOICE, a project of the Harriet Tubman Center, have started a new organization. Over 30 youth, with the support of adults, created YouthVoice AdultAllies (YVAA), an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. The organization will be a first of its kind with an infrastructure where only youth are paid staff in the organization.

“Now that we have our own organization,” said Trevon Stapleton, junior at Cody High School, recent President of YOUTH VOICE and a founder of YVAA. “we have 100% control over what we do and the ability to partner with all organizations we want. I think we are at our greatest potential because we decide how we address the School to Prison Pipeline and luckily we have adults supporting us.”

The founding members of YouthVoice AdultAllies recently organized and participated in an 80-mile walk from Detroit to Lansing to advocate for a modification of zero tolerance policies and alternatives to suspensions. Members in YVAA received national attention and through a partnership with the Director for the Department of Human Services Maura Corrigan and the Michigan Board of Education, YVAA leadership believes legislation will be introduced to modify zero tolerance and stop suspensions for minor offenses like truancy in the upcoming months.

Kyle Guerrant from The Michigan Department of Education says an over-reliance to suspend and expel students for non-violent behavior creates significant barriers to learning, and increases the likelihood of academic failure, and students dropping out of the educational system all together.

“The youth in YVAA have support from many community allies and we know legislation will be introduced soon so our plan is to continue working with Michigan leaders to ensure we reserve the 180-day expulsion for only the most serious offenses, support schools to create alternatives to suspensions like restorative practices, and stop suspensions for truancy and uniform violations,” says Kayla Mason, YVAA adult member.

To learn about upcoming meetings and how you can get involved, visit Facebook.com/YVxAA.

YouthVoice AdultAllies is an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. Visit www.YouthVoiceAdultAllies.org for more information. 

Teachers need more training and resources to teach to higher standards


As two leaders who don’t always agree on what “education reform” should look like in our state, it’s striking when we do agree – and agree strongly – on what makes most sense for Michigan students.

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Every school deserves a high-quality literacy program


A new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation reports the very disturbing information that only 31 percent of all Michigan students and only 19 percent of low-income students are reading proficiently in fourth grade in 2013.

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Network aims to boost Michigan-produced food


A new network aims to connect farmers, food processors and food service directors as part of an effort to increase the amount of Michigan-produced food served in schools, hospitals and other institutions.

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GreatSchoolsDetroit.org serves as a resource to help Detroit parents make school choices

Navigating the education landscape in Detroit is a complex endeavor as parents and caregivers have hundreds of school options to consider in trying to find the best fit for their child’s education needs. GreatSchoolsDetroit.org, produced by Excellent Schools Detroit in partnership with GreatSchools, gives Detroit families the tools they need to make a quality school choice.
GreatSchools is the leading national source of school performance information for parents, reaching 52 million unique visitors and 50 percent of American families with children.
“The GreatSchoolsDetroit.org website is a collaboration of Excellent Schools Detroit’s localized Scorecard data and GreatSchools national ratings,” said Dan Varner, chief executive officer, Excellent Schools Detroit. “Not only will parents have the apples-to-apples comparison across a multitude of measures in our Scorecard, but they’ll also see how the local schools rate on a national scale through GreatSchools’ score.”
When visiting GreatSchoolsDetroit.org, users can view in-depth school profiles, read and write reviews of schools, compare schools across a multitude of measures and criteria and find schools near their community. The innovative site contains data from hundreds of Detroit schools, ranging from early childhood learning centers to public, charter, and private elementary and high schools.
“Excellent Schools Detroit’s in-depth knowledge of and data on Detroit education environments and their deep connections with schools, community groups and parent organizations provides the localized insights that parents need,” said Bill Jackson, chief executive officer, GreatSchools. “Excellent Schools Detroit is the ideal partner for GreatSchools, because both organizations are committed to bringing parents the robust information they need to make great school choices.”
GreatSchoolsDetroit.org is designed as a mobile-friendly site, for easy access from smartphones and tablets as well as computers.
Excellent Schools Detroit re-launched its Scorecard in August 2013 with in-depth, side-by-side comparison of Detroit schools along a multitude of measures, including academic performance, academic progress and school climate. The organization recommends parents and students select schools graded C+ or better because these schools will generally prepare students for success in college, career and community.
In 2013, GreatSchools began building partnerships with local community organizations and city groups to bring the best school information and tools to families. These partnerships combine the local knowledge and relationships of community partners with the national media and technology platform of GreatSchools. GreatSchools Detroit is the first new partnership to launch. 
About Excellent Schools Detroit
Excellent Schools Detroit was formed in 2010 by a coalition of philanthropic, education, community and civic leaders with an important mission: an excellent education for every Detroit child, from cradle to career, by 2020. To that end, Excellent Schools Detroit produces an annual Scorecard, which grades schools across a multitude of excellence measures, to help Detroit parents and community make an informed school choice. The organization convenes individuals and organizations across multiple sectors as the Detroit community collectively works to achieve excellence in education.
About GreatSchools
Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonpartisan nonprofit that helps millions of parents find great schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. The Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, is the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, with profiles of about 200,000 public, public charter, and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers, and students. In addition, GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, GreatSchools had 52 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools has local programs and offices in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC.
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