How Many Numbers Does It Take to Fix a School?

How Many Numbers Does It Take to Fix a School?
July 19, 2017 core_admin
Non-academic performance index points graph.

By Charles Taylor Kerchner

The experience of the last quarter century tells us that it only takes one number to label, shame, or laud a school. But it takes a bunch of indicators to help one improve. Using single indicators to name and shame schools mostly provides a reliable indicator of a neighborhood’s socioeconomic status, and historically the Failing School label doesn’t provide useful diagnostic information. So, the release on Tuesday of the School Quality Improvement Index by California’s CORE districts is a big step toward useful information.

To explain: if you stacked up the achievement numbers on the state’s mothballed Academic Proficiency Index, all the schools in the box (at the left) would be the same.

But these schools vary widely on other measures, such as English Learner redesignation rates, chronic absences, and suspension rates, which provide a school needed information about where it should direct its attention.

CORE is a collaborative of nine California districts—Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger, and Santa Ana—serving more than 1 million students. They’ve been working on the improvement index for several years. Tuesday’s release provides each school, each district, and the public with a report card that includes both academic and social-emotional domains.

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