On Friday, a group including some of the largest school systems in the state called CORE will unveil its new formula for measuring public schools at the California School Boards Assn. Conference in San Diego.
And for the first time, new metrics will count: In addition to academic performance, school scores will account for how safe children feel in school, suspension rates, skills not measured by traditional academic tests such as self-control and social awareness, and how quickly students who don't speak English are learning the language, among other factors. The idea is to evaluate schools in a more nuanced way that captures a broader picture of what happens in schools. The group is also releasing preliminary results on its first attempts at using those measures.
“We have known for a long time that academic performance is one of many factors that make a great school, but CORE districts are now serving as a model for how we can actually measure these factors and look more holistically at school outcomes,”
CORE will release its first round of school reports in early February. Previously, schools in California have been measured and evaluated in accordance with their test scores, a statewide metric known as the Academic Performance Index. But in February, a group of six school districts that are part of CORE will start grading its schools according to the new formula, called the School Quality Index, with each receiving a score out of 100.
CORE is unveiling its framework as the state of California figures out how to measure schools. California suspended API as schools transitioned to new tests aligned with the Common Core learning standards.
"In some ways, these indicators are apples, bananas and oranges," he said. "You throw them into a blender and you get a smoothie — I don't see how you get one number."
For the 2014-15 school year, the scores used by the six CORE districts will count academic performance for 60% of the overall score. That academic score will include English Language Arts and math exams, as well as high school graduation rates at the high school level, and a measure for high school readiness for 8th graders at the middle school level. The other 40% will include measures of the school that are different from performance, such as how many students are missing significant amounts of school, how many students are suspended or expelled, and how many English language learners have become fluent.
The other three CORE member districts — Garden Grove, Sacramento City and Sanger — along with the rest of the state of California, are operating under outdated No Child Left Behind mandates. The federal waiver allows six of the CORE districts to operate under the system they developed. It is unclear how that would change if and when the new federal law goes into effect.
The terms of the waiver dictate that CORE must ultimately give schools a single grade. But David Plank, a
"That's what parents will focus on," he said. "Where do we stand relative to other schools, not what do we know about how our school is doing on community engagement or a number of other indicators? There's a political reality here: The federal government is requiring this."
You can reach Joy Resmovits on Twitter @Joy_Resmovits.
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