Bill Jackson

Ashoka Fellow
San Francisco, United States
Fellow Since 2013
My work: building the nation's leading online guide to information about schools and learning


This profile was prepared when Bill Jackson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Bill is working to help parents understand, support and advocate for their children's education in more powerful ways: first, by enabling them to make informed decisions about their children’s schools and to press for changes on their behalf, and second, by helping parents set high expectations and encourage their children's educational success.

A former teacher turned tech entrepreneur, Bill saw that pervasive parental disengagement in children’s education could be traced back to a lack of consumer transparency. Without the ability to see behind closed doors or to evaluate school performance, parents had little way to choose the right school for their children, or to advocate for improvements on their children’s behalf. He thus launched GreatSchools to serve as a translator, turning school-based data buried deep within cumbersome reports, spreadsheets, and hard-to-read charts into actionable information for parents.

Bill created a ratings system to establish a common baseline across all schools, using standardized test performance. Powered by a combination of data and user reviews, GreatSchools also relies on parents, teachers, and students to share their personal experiences on the site, providing a more nuanced perspective beyond the school's standardized test performance. Its success is self-reinforcing: as the site becomes better and better known, more parents and teachers add their own reviews, thereby increasing the ratings' value. The result has dramatically increased parents’ ability to exercise choice when it comes to which schools they send their children to, and established a competitive dynamic among schools to improve accountability and performance.

Having initially launched GreatSchools as a guide to Silicon Valley schools, Bill has grown the platform to become the nation's leading supplier of school performance data and information. has profiled more than 200,000 preK-12 schools – public, public charter, and private – and amassed more than a million parent, teacher and student ratings, serving more than 52 million unique visitors each year – or half of all parent households in the US. Now Bill is launching GreatKids to leverage the community he’s built with GreatSchools and to help parents understand, inspire and support their kids’ learning and development. The new platform will provide them with the knowledge they need to best support their children’s education at home. Just as GreatSchools acts as a guide for choosing a school, GreatKids will serve as a trusted guide for parents to help their children achieve educational success.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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