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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Orange is the new red

Orange is the new red for California schools, writes New America’s Conor Williams in The 74.

Twice as many schools fell in the bottom (red) tier of the state’s Trivial Pursuit-inspired accountability dashboard this year. It could have been “a signal that California needs to do a whole lot more to improve how its schools serve students,” he writes. Instead, the state tweaked the dashboard to move reds to orange and boost the number of greens and blues.

The move “appears to subvert the accountability system and risks undermining public confidence,” complained the Equity Coalition in a letter.

No kidding.

“California, Idaho, and North Dakota . . . rely on proficiency rates, don’t emphasize student growth, and propose using a dashboard-like approach with myriad data points and no bottom line for reporting school quality to parents, beyond identifying their very worst schools, as required by federal law,” complains Fordham.

Twenty-one of the 51 school rating systems are “good or great,” according to Rating the ratings. Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington are the best.

On Dropout Nation, RiShawn Biddle disagrees that most ratings systems are strong.

As Bellwether Education Partners notes in its review of state ESSA plans, the addition of multiple measures of district and school performance (including chronic absenteeism indexes that aren’t broken down by subgroup) means that the rating systems will likely be a muddle that ends up hiding how well or poorly school operators are serving children. Another problem: Many states are using super-subgroups that . . .  lump children of different backgrounds into one category. . . . (That) hides a district’s failure to help the worst-served children succeed and thus, allows it to not address its failures.

Furthermore, Biddle doesn’t believe that “transparency suffices as a tool for accountability and, ultimately, holding school operators (and ultimately, states) responsible for fulfilling their obligation to help children succeed.”

If schools failure to educate students, what are the consequences?

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