Two Professors Want to Create “Consumer Reports” for EdTech Products

This week, GigaOM reported that two professors, Aaron Chatterji from Duke and Benjamin Jones from Northwestern, submitted a proposal for a nonprofit called EDU STAR that could review and rate education tech products. Like Consumer Reports, the source would provide third-party assessments to help consumers better understand what products work and are worthwhile.

EDU STAR is hoping to secure $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education and through grants, according to GigaOM. They also reported that co-founder of Smarterer said this is a positive project for the industry, as it would really raise the bar, helping educators better spend their money and calling for higher quality edtech products.

Specifically, the proposal said:

EDU STAR will build a bridge between innovators and
entrepreneurs, and K–12 schools. Using this bridge, EDU STAR
will both (a) evaluate and (b) report on education technologies,
creating a trusted, rigorous, and low-cost platform to
• Resolve uncertainties on the buyers’ side of the market,
• Focus sales on the best technologies,
• Substantially reduce entry costs for new ideas, and
• Expand and accelerate the development of innovative
technologies by established firms and entrepreneurs.

This isn’t the

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first attempt at a ratings system for edtech. We’ve written how EdSurge also provides product reviews for educators; however EDU STAR’s $5 million budget suggests a more intensive undertaking compared to EdSurge’s recent $400,000 round and split focus on editorial and reviews. GigaOM also noted that EdShelf has been trying to solve this problem as well with a “Yelp-like approach” that considers “reviews from teachers who supply grade level and topic information, as well as additional notes on the context in which they used the software.”

We’ll keep an eye on EDU STAR to see if the proposal leads to a new rating system for teachers.