Tough Measurements for School Success Needed

Tough Measurements for School Success Needed
July 19, 2017 core_admin
An educator in the front of the classroom leading instruction to a group of kids.

By San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board

The state of California, the federal government, and your local school district all agree — our lowest-performing schools need support and improvement. The problem is that every entity has its own idea about how to make changes.

A conflict between different educational reform systems sounds academic, but it could have real and serious effects on students, parents and school officials.

According to a data analysis from the Policy Analysis for California Education, a nonprofit based at Stanford University, the regulations that officials use to evaluate California’s schools could be the deciding factor in which ones are listed as low-performing schools — and which are not.

“When you use multiple measures, they highlight different performance metrics of the school,” said Heather Hough, a researcher with Policy Analysis. “How you weight those measures will have a dramatic impact on which schools are identified as needing improvement.”

And schools that are designated as needing improvement are subject to increased oversight, scrutiny, and — unfortunately — public shame.

California is currently struggling with the right way to measure a failing school.
How we got here is complicated — and so is our way out.

Under a 2013 federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, six California school districts created their own school accountability and improvement model.

This model, known as the CORE system (for CORE Districts), takes a broad view of a school for evaluation. In addition to academic test scores, the system looks at non-academic metrics for student success, including suspension/expulsion, chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness indicators (including attendance rates and grades), and students’ self-assessments of social and emotional skills like self-management.

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