December 20 2017

Last month, the California Department of Education released a long-awaited update to the California School Dashboard. I encourage you to visit and see how your local school and school district is performing.

The Dashboard was created as a result of the Local Control Funding Formula, and it’s a major improvement over the test-based measures California previously used to evaluate schools. Achievement scores are still important, but the new system recognizes that a good school is determined by more than test scores.  The Dashboard includes many other metrics, too, including chronic absence, parent participation, and school suspension rates.

That last indicator is especially important to The Endowment and our partners working to improve school equity. That’s because suspensions are a critical link in the School-to-Prison pipeline, and research shows that students of color face a disproportionate chance of being removed from school, even for minor infractions.

Let’s see how my daughter’s school, Longfellow Elementary, is doing on key state indicators. I love how the dashboard uses this color-based performance score: blue is best, followed by green, yellow, orange and red. With the simple color scheme, I can easily see where things are going well and where they need improvement.

Longfellow is doing well on English Learner Progress and English Language Arts, too. However, I’m worried about suspensions. It’s yellow level overall, but for African American students, we are in the orange zone. Through the Dashboard,  I can quickly understand issues of equity that were previously hard to find.  I don’t like seeing the disproportionate use of suspensions for African American students and I will ask the principal it the next time I see him.

I encourage you to visit the dashboard, and if you see anything that concerns you, get in touch with your school and district leaders. The Dashboard is a powerful tool that democratizes information that had previously been hard-to-find or unavailable.

The California School Dashboard helps parents, students, and community members hold our leaders accountable. It gives us an informed voice. Let’s use it!

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