CA School News Report

Bellflower Unified Urges Community to Review New California Schools Dashboard

BELLFLOWER – Bellflower Unified School District leaders are encouraging local families and community members to review the new California Schools Dashboard, which will be released Wednesday, March 15 for a statewide field test.

The Dashboard, which is still under construction, is designed to evaluate district, school and student subgroup performance and growth on six state and four local measures. So far, data has been prepared for four measures. The others will become available in fall 2017, when a final version of the Dashboard will debut.

“The system is a radical change from California’s old system, and holds the promise of offering new insights into how Bellflower Unified allocates resources to improve school performance,” Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs said.

The dashboard replaces the state’s Academic Performance Index (API), which relied almost completely on test scores. The API gave each school a single performance number. It was retired after 2013, when the state shifted to the California Standards and adopted statewide standardized tests tied to those standards.

The need for an accountability tool reflecting those changes opened the door for development of a multiple-measures dashboard.

Once finalized, the tool will incorporate existing state measures for chronic absenteeism, suspensions, graduations and state test performance, as well as new ways of assessing English learner progress and college and career readiness.

For the field test, just four state measures will be available: graduation rate, suspension rate, English learner progress and state test results.

The final tool will also feature the four local measures: school climate, parent engagement, implementation of academic standards and adequacy of school facilities. These measures track districtwide performance only.

In addition, the new dashboard looks not only at single-year performance, but also evaluates growth by examining scores over several years. In some cases, the most recent data is for 2014-15; in others, it represents 2015-16.

Five color-coded icons – blue, green, yellow, orange, red – represent a school’s success on each measure by averaging performance and growth data. A blue icon indicates high performance that is steady or improving. Red indicates poor performance that is declining.

“We highly encourage our community to take full advantage of this trial period to study how well the dashboard communicates school performance information,” Bellflower Unified Superintendent Dr. Brian Jacobs said. “Their feedback is important in helping the state refine this new tool to ensure maximum effectiveness.”