How We Rate and Review

Unbiased, Trustworthy, and Free

Common Sense Education is a nonprofit with a strong commitment to an unbiased, in-depth editorial process. Our ratings and reviews of edtech are not influenced by developers or funders, and we never receive payments or other compensation for reviewing any tools. We're also committed to offering our reviews free to educators.

Editorial Reviews Methodology

Our editorial reviews are based on a research-backed, 15-point rubric developed specifically to evaluate the learning potential of digital tools. Our rubric evaluates three key qualities essential to great digital learning experiences: engagement, pedagogy, and support, including (but not limited to) how engrossing the tool is to use, whether it promotes conceptual understanding and creativity, how it adapts to students' individual needs, and how well it supports knowledge transfer.

Based on the rubric and an in-depth evaluative process, reviewers assign a rating (out of five stars) for each of the three dimensions and an overall rating for the tool. Reviewers also determine a recommended grade range, the most relevant subjects and skills, and which Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards teachers could address using the tool. The body of the review offers analysis supporting the rating and implementation tips and ideas. Before publication, all reviews are run by Common Sense Education's editorial staff for final review and approval.


The Common Sense Education editors oversee a team of expert freelance 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, ongoing training in using our rubric and review process to evaluate digital learning tools. Learn more about our team.

Reviewer by the Numbers

Deciding What to Review

Editors consider the following factors when deciding to review a tool:

  • Requests from educators
  • Breadth of coverage across subjects, grade bands, and platforms
  • Popular and trending tools
  • Editorial interests

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Note: Please make sure we haven't already reviewed the tool before submitting the form.

Updating Editorial Reviews

Reviews are updated periodically to keep them factually accurate and current. Some of these updates involve changing the rating. We always consult developers when updating a review; however, unless a review has factual inaccuracies, the decision to update the review is an editorial decision based on our coverage needs.

Request an update of an editorial review.

Star Ratings Breakdown (as of 2016)

One-star rating
Not Recommended, Poor (1% of total reviews)

Two-star rating
Conflicted, Fair (7%)

Three-star rating
Recommended, Good (48%)

Four-star rating
Highly Recommended, Very Good (40%)

Five-star rating
Best in Class, Excellent (4%)

Privacy Policy Evaluations

The Common Sense Privacy Evaluation Initiative helps districts, schools, and teachers make more informed decisions about the apps they use with students. The primary goal of the Initiative is to provide educators access to a robust set of resources to help them make more informed decisions about the educational software they use. Our tool evaluations take a deep dive into the privacy policy of each tool and assess the safety, privacy, security, and compliance of the app based on that policy.

Teacher Reviews

We pair our expert editorial reviews with from-the-field teacher reviews to deepen the conversation about technology integration in the classroom by focusing on specific examples of student experiences and outcomes as well as creative uses for tools. Our Common Sense Certified Educators, selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants, contribute a portion of these reviews.