For Immediate Release
December 15, 2024
Contact: Mariel Matze, [email protected], 650-380-1973
The Education Trust–West Responds to the 2023 California School Dashboard Release
Oakland, CA — In response to the release of updated data on the California School Dashboard, Melissa Valenzuela-Stookey, Director of P-16 Research at The Education Trust–West, issued the following statement:
The California School Dashboard (“the Dashboard”) is Californians’ single best window into our TK-12 education system. No other data set or tool offers a more holistic and accessible view of the realities California’s students of color experience every day. Today, we see some schools and districts shining, demonstrating that progress is possible, amid a state that overall continues to advance toward equity at a concerningly slow pace.
COVID necessitated a limited data release in previous years, so we’re glad to see a prompt return to “performance levels”, which provide insight into progress between this year and the prior school year by student groups, as well as an “Equity Report” showing where performance levels differ across student groups. We’re also encouraged to see a robust suite of resources designed to help educators, families, and community members make sense of and use the Dashboard data. Because teachers are one of the most important factors in a student’s education, we’re especially excited to see more detailed teacher assignment data added and will continue to advocate for other educator data to be made public as well.
While much of the data may be fresh, the results are not. Though exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, educational equity gaps are a long-term and entrenched trend—and so far, it persists. Across the board, the California Department of Education’s 2023 California School Dashboard shows that the state’s schools, districts, and county offices of education are failing many of the state’s students of color.
- Academic indicators, in the form of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) scores in Math and English language arts, show stagnation and failure to close gaps for students of color. Our recent analysis finds that the state’s flawed school funding formula, despite having been designed to drive equity, has failed to meaningfully narrow those gaps over the past decade.
- Black students and Native students are most likely to be chronically absent, with just over 1 in 3 students in each group classified as chronically absent in 2022-23, indicating that these groups disproportionately experience barriers to attendance and suggesting that schools are less likely to be accessible, welcoming, and engaging to them and their families.
- Teacher assignment data, which measures the portion of classes taught by educators who are qualified to teach them, shows that districts with the highest concentrations of students from low-income households have the most classes taught by misassigned or underprepared teachers.
- Grad rates decreased by roughly one percentage point, and stark equity gaps remain, with only 78.5% of Black students and 84.2% of Latinx students being supported to graduate in the 2022-23 school year. Graduation rates for English Learners continue to be among the lowest of all student groups at 73.5%, suggesting the need to ensure these students in particular have access to high quality instructional materials and educators who are prepared to support both their English language development and academic success.
- A-G completion rates, the rate at which high school graduates are completing the course sequence required for admission to the California State University and University of California systems, improved almost across the board, though that increase is in part driven by a smaller pool of graduates, meaning that the actual number of students in most groups graduating having fulfilled A-G requirements actually decreased compared to 2021-22. Though both groups saw slight increases in A-G completion rates, only about one-third of Native graduates and fewer than half of Black graduates completed the A-G sequence.
- The College and Career Indicator, a measure that combines data on students’ preparedness to enter either college or the workforce, showed that only 44% of students are prepared. Once again, when disaggregated by race/ethnicity, this measure reveals unacceptable equity gaps, with only 15.3% of English Learners, 25.1% of Black graduates, 26.5% of Native graduates, 33.1% of Pacific Islander graduates, and 35.5% of Latinx graduates meeting the criteria to be considered “prepared”.
We don’t have to publish similar results next year. There is plenty that can be done to improve both opportunity and outcomes for California’s students of color. From funding for teacher preparation programs that bring more educators of color into the profession to resources and guidance for curricular changes in math and ethnic studies, the state can and must bolster schools’ abilities to close equity gaps. Using that support takes money: as a first step to fixing our unfinished school funding formula, we call for legislative hearings on the shortcomings and possibilities of our LCFF/LCAP system.
As school, district, and state policymakers explore the Dashboard, we hope that they come to the same conclusion that so many parents, educators, students, and community members will: that it’s high time to do whatever it takes for California’s students of color.
For more on the policy and practice changes that will most effectively accelerate racial equity in California’s schools, please read The Power of Now: Ed Trust–West’s 2023-24 Policy Agenda.
Melissa Valenzuela-Stookey is available for further comment if needed. Please contact Mariel Matze at 650-380-1973.
About The Education Trust–West
The Education Trust–West is an evidence-driven advocacy organization committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in California’s education system. For over two decades, Ed Trust–West has worked to improve racial equity in education by engaging diverse communities and increasing political and public will to build an education system where students of color and multilingual learners will thrive. For more information, see www.west.edtrust.org or follow us on X.