The Lessons District Superintendents Taught Me About K-12 Websites


Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple days with 85 K-12 superintendents at an industry summit. As a marketer, spending time with key people with whom your company does business is invaluable.

One of the topics I discussed with many of these district leaders was their thoughts and perceptions of their district and school websites. We spent a lot of time at this summit discussing increased pressure on public districts to attract and retain enrollments and recruit staff. Given the increased competition from education alternatives (online courses, home school options, private and charter schools, etc.) public school districts are struggling more than ever to maintain enrollment levels.

And no tool is more important for competing in this emerging environment than a district’s websites. They serve as the portal for a K-12 community to learn about the success and progress being made within the district.

As I discussed websites with this group of superintendents, a few common questions –  or doubts –  seemed to emerge.

  • Are my district and school websites good enough?
  • How do I know if my website is effective?
  • Do prospective parents and families see the results we’re driving in the district?
  • Can parents find the information they need easily, within a few clicks?
  • Are my sites accessible to all users?

For the past six years, I’ve been working with districts to help them optimize their district and school websites. For years I’ve relied on our Website Grader tool to assess district and school websites to check for key elements and maximize effectiveness. After testing hundreds of websites, we found some surprising trends:

  • Urban districts scored on average higher than suburban or rural districts
  • The higher the enrollment, the better the score on average
  • Florida and Washington had the highest average scores by state; conversely Alabama and Delaware had the lowest average scores by state

If you have questions about your district and school websites you can use our Website Grader to see where you stand and get ideas for how to improve.