Ever since his days as a high school student in Los Angeles, Aaron Feuer has believed that more feedback could help teachers and schools do better.
As president of the California Association of Student Councils, Feuer helped get a state law passed to create new mechanisms for gathering feedback. But there was no money or mandate. There were no great tools for collecting input from students, parents, and teachers. So nothing happened.
But Feuer didn’t give up, and he started Panorama Education while enrolled at Yale University. The company became one of the first startups that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg put money into, through his charitable foundation.
The 11-person Cambridge company launched last year offers online software and services that help school districts conduct surveys and analyze the results. The vision, Feuer says, “is to have schools start to use data to figure out where they’re at now, and how they improve.”
Most schools focus primarily on test scores when they analyze data, he says. That ignores the environment teachers and principals create, and how that affects dropout and graduation rates.
More than 5,000 schools, including about 20 outside the United States, have signed on with Panorama so far. “We didn’t just make surveys more efficient in schools,” said Feuer, now 23. “We made them possible.”