Today, December 7th, the California Department of Education (CDE) officially launched the California School Dashboard, an improved new reporting system for California public schools.
The Dashboard employs an easy-to-understand report card format with valuable information on multiple topics for school and student performance. Several years in the making, the Dashboard replaces the Academic Performance Index (API), which was based only on test scores.
The Dashboard recognizes that school progress should be shown by more than test results. Students and school success is measured on a variety of indicators, including test scores, but also including graduation rates, suspension rates, English learner progress and college/career readiness. Looking at more data, and more meaningful information, helps more precisely identify a district or school’s strengths and weaknesses and highlights performance gaps between groups of learners.
“Educators are continuously assessing student performance, and we use several measures to track our progress,” said Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) Superintendent Donald Evans. “Now we have a ‘report card’ that gives the public a more holistic view of what we are doing well and what areas need improvement.”
Focus on Equity
The Dashboard’s Equity Report shows how different student groups are performing on various measures. Student groups include ethnic and racial groups, low-income students, English learners, foster youth, and students with special needs. In this way, the Dashboard makes inequities impossible to ignore and helps communities align resources to improving student group performance through the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) process.
The LCAP represents each District’s unique implementation of California’s groundbreaking Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts and schools more flexibility in using state resources and provides extra funding to districts and schools serving students needing extra help. The Dashboard plays a key role in helping each District tailor its LCAP to local needs.
The BUSD Dashboard results reveal notable successes. The indicators are color-coded – blue, green, yellow, orange and red. The District’s performance scores are consistently above average, earning a “high” rating (green color) for students as a whole in all the standard statewide indicators that have been included in Dashboard so far. But at the same time, the Dashboard also shows areas in need of improvement for some student subgroups. For homeless youth, the Dashboard shows a gap that designates BUSD as one of seven Districts in Alameda County entitled to receive “differentiated assistance” from the County Office of Education to address the needs of homeless students.
There are 10 indicators shown on the Dashboard, six that are statewide and four that are local to each District.
Six state indicators for all schools (results released by state):
- Academic Performance (consisting of test results in English Language Arts and Math)
- Career/College Readiness (Click the link to see data.)
- English Learner Progress
- Graduation Rate
- Suspension Rate
- Chronic Absenteeism (Click the link to see data.)
Four BUSD local indicators (results determined by District):
- Basic Conditions (Teachers, Instructional Materials, Facilities)
- Implementation of Academic Standards
- Parent Engagement
- Local Climate Survey (Students, Staff, Parent/Guardians)
Note: The currently posted Dashboard results indicate Local Indicators as “Not Met,” which simply means in this case that our District’s results have not yet been entered into the system, and does not indicate the level of achievement. They will all show “Met” when BUSD data is entered. Information about BUSD’s local indicators can be found in a staff report in the agenda packet for the School Board’s Nov. 15, 2017 meeting (item 14.3).The Dashboard uses five colors, also represented by five “pie slices,” to give a quick look at performance on the state indicators, ranging from red (one slice) at the lowest level, to blue (5 slices) at the highest.
Each rating is determined by two factors which are given equal weight: the latest available measure of performance (called “Status”) as well as how the performance has changed over time (called “Change”).
For example, a high school with a graduation rate in the middle level of the five levels would receive a yellow rating, but with an increase in graduate rate from the prior three-year average will receive a bump up to green color (the second highest-ranking color).
At the same time, a school can have differing performance levels for different student groups in addition to the measure as a whole.
Dashboard users should note that measures of performance may not duplicate familiar state reports and that the Dashboard is not designed in a way that makes school-to-school or district-to-district comparisons meaningful.
To learn more about how the Dashboard fits in with California’s new accountability and continuous improvement system, visit the Department of Education’s California Accountability Model & School Dashboard webpage.
The Alameda County Office of Education has also created a video to explain the Dashboard.