Hailing ‘new system for a new era,’ state Board of Education approves updated school accountability model

Say goodbye to measuring a school’s performance based on a single number, and say hello to a new, multifaceted system of accountability.

Calling it the first of its kind in the country, the state Board of Education approved a new accountability system that evaluates schools and districts in 10 areas considered critical to student performance, including test scores, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and progress of English learners.

Officials say the new system gives parents, educators and the community more tools to understand what is happening at their schools, promotes equity by helping identify disparities among student groups, and more effectively identifies the schools that need extra help — and where they need it.

“Today the State Board has taken a big step toward improving our accountability system, as required under the new school funding formula approved by the Governor and the Legislature,” California State Board of Education President Michael Kirst said in a news release. “Parents, educators and the public will soon be able to look at a variety of areas to tell how their school is doing.”

The system will be based on how well schools performed last year, as well as how much they improved — or declined — over a three-year period. Based on a combination of the measures described above, each school will be assigned one of five performance levels aligned with a new color-coded system, with blue being the highest.

The new model replaces the defunct Academic Performance Index, or API, which relied almost exclusively on test scores to measure progress. It’s also a key requirement of the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, which provides more local control over revenues and more resources for students with the greatest needs.

“The new accountability system provides parents, educators  and community members with a wealth of information, allowing them to dig deep into a variety of areas that affect student performance and more effectively hold their districts accountable,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “It will also help educators more easily identify and assist schools and districts in need of help.”

The web-based system will not be available to view until 2017. In the meantime, more information can be found in the California State Board of Education agenda here and in this news release from the California Department of Education.