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A new way to measure student growth and achievement: State’s new accountability system considers multiple factors

California School Dashboard report card

The state’s new accountability and continuous improvement system for schools and districts, the California School Dashboard, is being unveiled to the public this month. The Dashboard will monitor multiple measures of student progress.

The Dashboard will provide a much broader overview of information than prior assessments, which can guide parents, highlight schools’ and districts’ strengths and weaknesses, identify disparities among student groups, and help educators design and implement improvement strategies.

The system will be fully operational for the 2017-18 school year, displayed in an easy-to-understand report card format. It replaces the Academic Performance Index (API), which relied solely on test scores to produce a single number for school and district evaluation.

After more than a year of stakeholder input, the new rubric addresses a variety of indicators based on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) priorities, which outline how the district plans to support student achievement, and how it is using its financial resources to get results. The plan must address the state’s identified eight priorities that impact student achievement—both inside and outside of the classroom. The data that goes into the dashboard is cumulative and statistical and will not include individual student data.

The new system will start with five state indicators: statewide test scores in mathematics and English language arts, English learner progress, suspension rate, college/career readiness, and high school graduation rates. Chronic absenteeism will be added later.

The Dashboard will have four local indicators: implementation of state academic standards, parent engagement, local climate survey, and basic services, which includes the availability of textbooks, adequate facilities, and correctly assigned teachers.

For local indicators, schools and districts will be rated on whether they met or did not meet the standards. Data to decide the rating will come in several forms, including information already reported on the School Accountability Report Card (SARC) as well as school surveys. For state indicators, ratings will be based on two factors—status and change. Status will be judged on current performance, while change will show improvement, decline or no change.

These factors will be combined so that each school and district will get a rating in five colors—blue (very good), green (good), yellow (median), orange (low), and red (very low).

The state is currently field testing a new website which will house the dashboard reports for K-12 districts and schools at

For more information about the dashboard, visit the California Department of Education web page at

Article by Sunnyvale School District Communications Coordinator Alia Wilson.

California School Dashboard report card
Courtesy of the California Department of Education


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