Tuesday, March 21, 2017

California, the New--and Improved!--Lake Wobegon

How good is your neighborhood school?  Who the heck knows?
After three years without a school accountability system, California Superintendent Tom Torlakson lauded the California School Dashboard as “a high-tech report card for our schools.”

The new color-coded system “paints a far rosier picture than in the past,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Nearly 80% of schools serving grades three through eight are ranked as medium- to high-performing in the new ratings,” even though the majority of students failed to reach English and math standards in last year’s state testing, according to the Times‘ analysis. “More than 50 of those schools whose average math scores fell below proficiency receive the dashboard’s highest rating for math.”

Why? The dashboard combines achievement with growth.
I teach in a well-to-do area; our students are mostly going to do fine even if we teachers coast.  I like the old system, which can let you know if your school is coasting or not:
For years, the Academic Performance Index gave each school a number, based on test scores, and two decile ratings: Parents could see how the school compared statewide and to schools with similar demographics. It was possible to track improvement.
For years we were in the top couple of deciles--among the highest performing schools in the state. However, when compared to schools with similar demographics, we didn't look so good.  It was an eye-opener.

Now, who can tell?


Auntie Ann said...

This is out of date now (from 2009), but is also an eye opener on a district level:


It was an attempt to sync US districts to ones around the world by asking the question: if we dropped these schools into another country, how would they rank there? They also give a single overall score where they compare against European and developed Asian countries.

My childhood district is considered by many to be excellent, but still doesn't peg to even 70% on math or 75% on reading. People can spend a fortune in LA trying to get into a "good" district like Beverly Hills, but even they peg to only 57% math & 69% reading on this estimate. Around here, Culver City is considered one of the better districts, but they rank only around 37% in math.

Even good, suburban schools in the US aren't nearly as good as we think they are.

Ellen K said...

Since school boards discovered social media they don't miss a chance to promote how well everyone is doing, even when they aren't. I suspect even the Chicago schools display honeyed accolades on their achievements.