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Accountability

California Accountability Model & School Dashboard

California’s new accountability and continuous improvement system provides information, based on a concise set of measures, about how local educational agencies and schools are meeting the needs of California’s diverse student population.

Background

Based on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which was passed in 2013, California has a new accountability system that is based on multiple measures. These measures are used to determine progress made by schools, districts and county offices of education ("Local Education Agencies" -- LEAs) toward meeting the needs of their students. The measures are based on factors that contribute to a quality education, including high school graduation rates, college/career readiness, student test scores, English learner (EL) progress, suspension rates, and parent engagement.

The sweeping overhaul of California's Accountability and Continuous Improvement System, ushered in with the LCFF, not only gives California a chance to address historical inequities, but provides the California Department of Education an opportunity to better support California's schools and its students.

Performance on these multiple measures are reported through the new California School Dashboard. The new accountability system reflects a clear expectation that all LEAs and schools can and should improve and emphasizes equity by focusing on student group performance. This new multiple measures system replaces the former Academic Performance Index (API), which was based solely on testing results, and the federal requirement to calculate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

LEA and school performance in the ten LCFF priority areas are measured using a combination of state and local indicators.

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA SCHOOL DASHBOARD

1. The dashboard is aligned with California’s academic standards, but it goes way beyond test scores.

Published online, the California School Dashboard features an array of data to help parents, educators and the public evaluate the strengths and challenges of their schools and districts. The dashboard also helps determine which schools and districts require special assistance.

The California School Dashboard uses color-coded pie pieces and other gauges to present a more comprehensive set of metrics. While it may take a little more time to grasp, it’s expected to be more useful than the API to parents, educators and the public.

 

2. The dashboard is based on state and local performance indicators that might look familiar.

Each year, the California School Dashboard displays scores based on about a dozen state and local indicators. These indicators are specifically aligned with 10 priority areas spelled out in the state’s overhauled funding formula. The same priority areas are also embedded in the local accountability plans that are updated annually by districts and charter schools.

The state indicators are:

  • Chronic absenteeism

  • Suspension rate

  • English learner progress

  • Graduation rate

  • College and career

  • Academic (English language arts and math)

State indicator results are based on how schools or subgroups performed overall (known as their “status”), as well as how much they improved or declined over a three-year period (referred to as “change”).

The local indicators are:

  • Appropriately assigned teachers, access to curriculum-aligned instructional materials and safe, clean and functional school facilities

  • Implementation of academic standards

  • Parent engagement

  • School climate

  • Coordination of services for expelled students (This applies to county offices of education only.)

  • Coordination of services for foster youth (Again, this is just for county offices of education.)

Schools, districts and county offices self-report their local indicators based on locally available data.

 

3. The California School Dashboard relies on visual graphics to show performance and growth.

For the state indicators, color-coded pie pieces represent school and subgroup performance levels. Ranked from least favorable to most favorable, the performance levels are red (one slice), orange (two slices), yellow (three slices), green (four slices) and blue (a full pie).

You can learn more about how each color is assigned by visiting the California Accountability Model & School Dashboard webpage, but the general idea is that the colors are gauges of how well the school or subgroup performed overall (status) and how much it improved or worsened over a three-year period (change).

Here’s a sample:


The imaginary school above would have boasted favorable suspension and graduation rates but produced low English scores and very low math scores.

Again, those scores above refer to the state indicators. The local indicators are represented differently. Rather than using color-coded pie pieces, the dashboard notes whether each local goal has been “met,” “not met” or “not met for more than two years.”

 

4. It’s not just a tool for parents and the public. The California School Dashboard also serves as the basis for technical assistance.

Under the provisions of the Local Control Funding Formula — that’s the state’s K-12 funding mechanism — schools and districts are eligible for technical assistance from their county office of education if certain performance benchmarks are not met over time. To learn more, refer to page 56 of the CDE’s Technical Guide for New Accountability System (PDF).

 

5. The state has published guides and other resources for those who want to dive a little deeper.

The California Department of Education has compiled the following resources for those seeking more information: