Despite negative feedback from within and well beyond the state, California’s State Board of Education continues to support their newly-developed school dashboard over a simpler, single rating system (like A-F grades).
The U.S. Department of Education had already offered feedback to the state on their ESSA plan, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took a speaking opportunity at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) legislative convening earlier this month to deliver some “tough love.” She singled out an unnamed state that “took a simple concept like a color-coded dashboard and managed to make it nearly indecipherable.” Without directly identifying the Golden State by name, the target was evident, as numerous critics, including an independent peer review, flagged California’s dashboard as complicated yet incomplete.
Critiques continue to surface closer to home, as a local equity coalition recently called for the State Board to make revisions to the state’s ESSA plan so that it would comply with federal requirements. PIE Network members, as part of that coalition, weighed in. EdVoice’s Bill Lucia concluded, “Anyone who worries about our state’s most struggling students should be discouraged by the State Board of Education’s actions.”
The Education Trust-West’s Carrie Hahnel described the most recent state board meeting, “It felt like they were kind of landing at a place that they intend to submit something that they don’t intend to implement…Our biggest concern is that we might not get the resources and support to the school sites that need them.”
Seth Litt of Parent Revolution, who previously offered recommendations to the state to make the dashboard more accessible, calls on LAUSD to help solve the concerns now. He noted, “The solution is two parts, and both parts are totally within LAUSD’s power. First, do better than the California Dashboard and create a system of clear school ratings that are useful to families, educators, and policymakers.”
Advocates’ assertions that parents would be better served by a single rating versus the dashboard were validated in the 2018 USC PACE/Rossier poll, the results of which indicate parents prefer the use of an overall grade of school performance. In their cheekily-titled post, “Do Voters Want an A-F Rating for Schools? The Answer is Complicated AF,” Morgan Polikoff and Kate Kennedy predict the consequences of the state board’s decision to ignore parents’ priorities,“If the state is unwilling to provide one, private organizations will fill this void. Does California want to put parents’ decisions in the hands of GreatSchools.org?”
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