The Education Trust–West Statement on The California School Dashboard Pilot
We appreciate the time and energy the California Department of Education has put into developing the California School Dashboard pilot as a meaningful first step. But today’s release of the dashboard pilot also makes one thing clear – more work is needed to give parents, students, educators, administrators, and other stakeholders an accessible picture of how schools are doing.
In this round, most schools are evaluated based on just a few measures, without telling stakeholders whether schools and districts are meeting state goals for each indicator. The dashboard also runs the risk of setting low expectations. A school can be performing below the “Met Standard” level in math yet still achieve the highest rating of “Blue.” Still more troubling, the dashboard waters down the meaning of equity – a school can be “Red” for students of color or low-income students on an indicator yet still receive a “Green” or “Blue” rating for all students.
“We remain concerned that the dashboard display is currently more confusing than practical – especially without clear goals and targets” said Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director of the Education Trust–West. “Making sense of the dashboard, without having to dig through the data files, is crucial for a variety of stakeholders. Parents, educators, and the public should not need a degree in data analytics to understand our accountability system.”
As the state pilots this dashboard, and moves forward on developing the ESSA state plan for school and district accountability, there is an urgent need to gather more input and feedback from parent, student, and community members. Additionally, given that nearly half of California’s K-12 students speak a language other than English at home, we urge the state to directly and appropriately translate the dashboard during the pilot stage to meet the needs of this substantial population of parents and stakeholders. We stand ready to assist the Department of Education in making the dashboard more goal-oriented, clear, and user-friendly for the public.
The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.