California public schools are pretty bad. So instead of fixing the root causes, state officials decided to implement a new school rating system. A system that makes it look like the schools are performing better than they really are.
It's called the California School Dashboard, and Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is singing its praises, calling it “a resource unlike anything we’ve ever had before” and “a high-tech report card for our schools.”
Dashboard is a color coded system that grades on a curve.
Red is the lowest possible performance, orange is low, yellow is medium, green is high, and blue is very high.
The color rating isn't for the school's overall performance. School's also get color grades for reading and math performance, graduation rates, English language acquisition for nonnative speakers, and suspension.
Carrie Hahnel, deputy director of research and policy at the Education Trust–West, says she's not a fan of this new system, calling it "terribly misleading:"
“It doesn’t do anybody any favors to communicate that things are just fine if they’re not.”
But Jenny Singh, an education research and evaluation administrator at the California Department of Education, defended Dashboard:
“You don’t want to have an accountability system come out and say there’s not going to be any blue or green schools."
So, it's all about looking good on paper? Not about the kids actually doing well in school? These administrators only seem to care about their bloated job.
Dashboard also takes test growth into account. So test scores might still be low, but if they improved a bit it'll still look like they're doing good on the report.
This sounds unnecessarily complicated, but that's California for you.