About Graphite

How We Rate and Review

We know that educators and learners are faced with an overwhelming array of choices when it comes to learning technologies. That's why we've assembled our expert team and put a lot of effort into developing a rigorous rating and review system that distinguishes the best edtech tools.

Coupled with our filtering and search tools, we can help educators discover options that best meet their needs. Once you discover learning tools on Graphite, our comprehensive Editorial Reviews provide incisive analysis and detailed information to help you decide whether and how to use the tools. As a nonprofit with a strong commitment to an unbiased editorial process, Graphite publishes Editorial Reviews that are uniquely trustworthy, in service to educators and educators alone. When these Editorial Reviews are combined with our crowdsourced Teacher Reviews, Graphite’s evaluations provide educators with a comprehensive understanding of a tool’s learning potential.

What's an Editorial Review?

An Editorial Review on Graphite starts with our research-backed, 15-point rubric that breaks down the evaluation into three main dimensions: engagement, pedagogy, and support. The rubric guides reviewers in assessing a number of criteria, including how engrossing the tool is to use, whether it promotes conceptual understanding, how it adapts to kids’ individual needs, and how it helps teachers and students transfer the learning into other contexts. Based on the rubric, reviewers assign a rating (out of five stars) for each of the three dimensions and an overall rating for the tool.

The heart of a Graphite Editorial Review lies in the three longer text-based sections -- What’s it like? Is it good for learning? How can teachers use it? -- where reviewers extrapolate on the ratings by highlighting the tool’s strengths and weaknesses. They aim to provide teachers with a detailed walkthrough of the tool, a thoughtful analysis of its potential for helping kids learn particular skills, and ideas for integrating the tool into classroom instruction.

Based on their evaluation, reviewers also determine a recommended grade range, the most relevant subjects and skills addressed by the tool, and which Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards the tool might be used to address.


Who Writes the Editorial Reviews?

The Common Sense Graphite editors oversee a team of expert reviewers. Our editors and reviewers are leaders in edtech, scholars in child development and learning, instructional designers, K–12 subject area experts, and school technology leaders. Reviewers receive extensive training in using our rubric and review process to evaluate digital learning tools. Before publication, all reviews and ratings are examined and fact-checked by our editors. Learn more about our team.

How Do You Decide What to Review?

Editors select products based on a set of criteria including, among others: our overall coverage of various subjects, skills, and grade ranges; popularity; innovative approach to tech and learning; and potential for high quality. As part of the selection process, our editors stay informed on the needs of educators, including district tech coordinators, librarians, pre-K–12 classroom teachers, and subject-area specialists. Our editors also pay close attention to emerging digital learning resources and trends in the field. Our team conducts research and gathers relevant information from educational sources, industry leads and conferences, and direct dialogue with edtech developers.

Editors also do their best to meet the requests of teachers and consult developers. Teachers can submit a request here. Developers can request a review here or request an update to an existing review here.

Note that Graphite's unbiased ratings and reviews are not influenced by the developers of the products or by our funders. We never receive payments or other compensation for reviewing any product.

How Do You Evaluate Privacy Policies?

We read privacy policies for all digital (app, game, and website) titles we review and do our best to alert educators to major concerns we identify, but we don't currently evaluate the full details of each policy and can't reevaluate policies as they're updated. We don't generally evaluate the digital products' actual practices. We always encourage parents to read privacy policies and terms of service to determine whether they're comfortable with the level of user information being collected and shared.

What's a Teacher Review?

Common Sense Graphite is for teachers, by teachers. Teacher Reviews are user ratings and reviews that give educators a venue to describe their experiences using a tool in the classroom. Teachers are encouraged to share their insights about what worked and what didn’t. In contrast with Graphite’s Editorial Rating, the Teacher Rating of a tool is an average of all the ratings from the Teacher Reviews for that tool. Teacher Reviews often provide specific examples of student experiences and outcomes that can be useful to other teachers, deepening the conversation around integrating technology into the classroom. Teacher Reviews aren’t edited or altered by Graphite staff in any way. Our Common Sense Graphite Certified Educators, selected from a highly competitive pool of educator applicants, write many Teacher Reviews in a voluntary reviewer role. However, any registered user of Graphite can contribute Teacher Reviews.