The State’s New Definition of Success
By Chief Director, Lindi Dreibelbis
Student learning is at the heart of what schools do. Academics always play a pivotal role, however, the State of California is now looking much deeper at a new way to rate schools and propel improvement in areas beyond academics.
From 1999-2013, district and school performance was reduced to one number between 200 and 1000. This was called the Academic Performance Index, or API. The state goal was to have schools score at 800 or above. The API number was determined through a complicated formula based solely on test scores. Therefore, a school’s ranking was determined only by student achievement on several different assessments. La Cañada schools always surpassed the state goals. In 2013, our schools’ API scores ranged from 937 to 970, showing the strength of our instruction and student learning.
Last spring, the state released a new design for judging school performance called the California School Dashboard. This new accountability system includes multiple measures. There are six state indicators and four local indicators.
These multiple measures include all the stakeholders in the district. Parents are strong contributors to student’s daily attendance and also the Parent Involvement and Engagement indicator. Student CAASPP test results in grades 3-8 make up the Academic indicator. Student voice is given credibility in the local indicator of School Climate. English Learner Progress is monitored through gains in their annual state English language test and how quickly students reach English proficiency. At the high school level, Graduation Rate is closely monitored and at-risk students receive intervention. Juniors’ test results are woven into the College/Career indicator as well as and college-prep course selection and the results from their Advanced Placement exams. Career Technical Education (CTE) is also part of that indicator. More information and details are available at the California Department of Education website at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/cm/.
The new design looks at performance and improvement. The results in each category are measured by status and change. Status is based on previous years’ data. They are compared with current data to determine how much, if any, change occurred. Each category is then given a performance level that is based on both status and change. There are five levels in each category as shown in the chart below.
In the inaugural release of the “Dashboard” last spring, LCUSD achieved a blue rating in all state indicators except suspension rate. LCUSD’s suspension rate was low, however, it increased by 0.3%, which resulted in a yellow rating for that indicator. (The status and change levels are in reverse order for suspensions because lower is better.)
The local indicators have just been added to the Dashboard this fall. There are three performance levels for the local indicators. They are “met,” “not met” and “not met for two years.” LCUSD is ranked as met for all four of the local indicators--the highest ranking available.
For a district to shine, performance needs to be high and improvement needs to be seen annually. For a small school district like ours, that is already very high on these performance measures, improvement is formidable task. Nonetheless, improving our success is a continual goal. The 2017-2018 California School Dashboard is scheduled to be released in December.
So, as Challenge Success is bringing a new lens to child education and development, the California Dashboard is also a wider view of excellent school performance. Academic success is only one measure of an outstanding school district. Today, in order to receive the highest blue status, schools must improve graduation rates, reduce suspensions, reduce the number of chronic absentees, improve English acquisition for English learners, prepare students to be college and career ready, provide safe and clean facilities, ensure the implementation of academic standards and textbooks for all students, improve parent involvement and produce happy, well-prepared students. It’s an awesome task and one that we gladly do everyday.