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 School Dashboard is New Tool for Public, Educators

If you have a student, work with students, or are just an advocate of education, a new phase in the California school accountability system is expected to be rolled out this month.

Known as the California School Dashboard, the public will be able to view district and school reports that cover different indicators or topics that impact overall student achievement and success.

This multi-layered dashboard replaces the single number or score that used to rank a school or district's performance. It uses multiple measures to keep the focus on student equity and strengthen local control.

When the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was implemented by the state of California in 2013, school districts received more freedom with how we spend our money locally in exchange for a different level of accountability. As part of the budget planning process, school districts now have to put together a Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

LCAPs are required to address the eight priorities identified by the state as being integral to a student's success. Those include Basics (teachers, facilities, and instructional materials), Implementation of Academic Standards, Parent Engagement, Pupil Achievement, Pupil Engagement, School Climate, Access to a Broad Course of Study, and Pupil Outcomes. Two additional state priorities, Expelled Students and Foster Youth, only apply to County Offices of Education.

The dashboard rolls up all the ways we can measure if those priorities are being addressed and gives a layered look across different student groups. Moving forward, the new LCAP template will incorporate pieces of the dashboard to highlight the ways the two tools align. The dashboard is also aligned to the federal accountability system. 

The dashboard uses colored "pies" to indicate the performance level -- blue is best, followed by green, yellow, orange, and red -- making it easy for educators, families, and community members to get an overview and dig deeper for more information.

For example, under Pupil Achievement, the dashboard shows student data for math and English language arts assessments. A user can see how all students are doing in those indicators as well as the performance of various student groups, including by race, socioeconomic status, English learner, and students with disabilities.

To see if students are connected to their education under Pupil Engagement, the dashboard looks at graduation and chronic absenteeism rates. And again, those rates can be compared across student groups.

The dashboard goes another step further. It doesn't just show whether the district's performance is high or low this year, it also factors in change over time. The performance is then compared to the average performance in that indicator across the state.

This first year of the dashboard will establish a baseline to monitor progress over time. There also will be some changes as measures for a few indicators are finalized.

Like a car dashboard, the California School Dashboard is a tool everyone can use to determine if and why problems exist and how we address them locally. It also ensures that families, teachers, students, and community members can all continue to engage in improving education and ensuring all students are fully supported.