The California Department of Education on Thursday unveiled the 2018 California School Dashboard — an updated version of the website that debuted last year — that provides a user-friendly, colorful interface for parents, students, and educators to evaluate school and district performance and identify strengths and weaknesses.
The Dashboard displays data based on how a school or district performed and how much they have improved or declined over time. Schools and districts receive one of five color-coded performance levels. From lowest to highest the colors are red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. A school or district’s overall performance level is based on the current performance and the change from the previous year.
The website, www.caschooldashboard.org, is fully accessible on smartphones and tablets. The new Dashboard also has the most current data available, including 2018 test scores and graduation rates. Parents can peruse their children’s school performance on chronic absenteeism, suspension rate, English learner progress, graduation rate, college and career readiness, and English language arts, and mathematics.
The Dashboard also includes detailed information on student subgroups such as African Americans, foster youth, English learners, homeless students, and students with disabilities.
The updated Dashboard includes several new additions. For example, schools and districts that serve kindergarten through eighth-grade were evaluated on school attendance via the Chronic Absenteeism indicator. In addition, high schools were evaluated for the first time on the College/Career Readiness indicator. The new Dashboard also includes scores for 11th grade students on the Academic indicator. Also new to the Dashboard indicators are the inclusion of students who attend alternative schools such as continuation high schools and programs for incarcerated youth. The four-year cohort graduation rate reflects changes in methodology compliant with the U.S. Department of Education requirements.
The state identified 374 districts statewide — up from 228 districts last year — for specialized, or differentiated assistance. Those districts, including 10 Antelope Valley districts, up from six last year, had one or more student groups in the “red” on two metrics. The local districts identified last year and included on this year’s list as well are Antelope Valley Union High School District, Eastside Union School District, Lancaster School District, Muroc Joint Unified School District, Palmdale School District, and Southern Kern Unified School District. The new districts on the list are Keppel Union School District, Muroc Joint Unified School District, Westside Union School District, and Wilsona School District.
Three school districts — Eastside Union School District and Palmdale and Wilsona school districts — had four student groups with the red, or lowest performance level on at least two of the state metrics. Muroc Joint Unified School District had three student groups in the red level on at least two of the state metrics. Mojave Unified School District had two student groups, and Lancaster School District and Keppel and Westside union school districts each had one student group in the red level on at least two of the state metrics.
The Dashboard system is only in its second year. Part of the data comes from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, which is in its third year.
AV Union High School District had six student groups in the ‘red” zone. For example, six of 11 student groups —African American, English learners, foster youth, homeless, low-income, and students with disabilities —placed in the “red” on English language arts. For mathematics, African American, English learners, Hispanic, homeless, low-income, and students of two or more races placed in the “red” zone.
Overall, the high school district saw an 18.8 point decline in its English language arts scores to the “orange” level, and an eight-point decline in its mathematics score to the “red” level.
For the last three years the district has given eighth through 11th grade students the Preliminary SAT, and compared how they performed on the CAASPP. Students who took the PSAT performed better on the SAT than they did on the CAASPP, district officials said.
The district’s graduation rate was 82.9% in the “yellow” zone and maintained. The graduation includes some special education students who are severely disabled and would not ordinarily be on a diploma track. Those students would receive a certificate of completion but that counts against the district’s graduation rate. The district’s graduation rate is about 88% based on data from the comprehensive schools sites and SOAR High School. SOAR in particular is a highlight for the district. The early-college education program ranked in the “blue” on all but one metric — English language arts — where it was green.
“We continuously evaluate the success of our students’ learning, and align our overall district plan to strengthen areas that need improvement,” Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Greg Nehen said in a statement. “The Dashboard has been available for just under two years, and has evolved with each iteration. Like most school districts, we are reviewing what the information presented about our schools reflects, and how it aligns with the measures we have in place to ensure student achievement. We appreciate the ability to use multiple measures to define success, and look forward to ongoing dialogue about Dashboard results with our various school communities.”
The Palmdale Aerospace Academy, an independent charter school, scored in the “blue” metric for graduation rate, “green” metric for college and career readiness, “orange” for English language arts, mathematics, and chronic absenteeism, and yellow for suspension rate.
“We are proud of our high school graduation rate and that our students scored well on the college/career readiness metric,” Lena DeYoung, TPAA Accountability Program coordinator, said in a statement. “These results reinforce our mission and vision to prepare students for college and a wide variety of careers. To address declining CAASPP scores, our CAASPP Coordinators have generated an action plan with a strategic focus on essential standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. In response to our increased chronic absenteeism rate, the counseling department is working with families and our attendance clerk to identify possible solutions. This includes coordinating transportation logistics to reduce the number of chronically absent students.”
“I’m so proud of our students and the work they’re doing,” TPAA Headmaster Laura Herman said.
The Dashboard replaced the Academic Performance Index, the state’s former accountability system that relied on standardized tests and assigned schools a three-digit index to measure academic improvement. The index ranged from 200 to 1,000 with the goal of reaching 800. Schools that did not meet state goals faced sanctions. That system was suspended four years ago.
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