Dashboard changes take shape during State Board of Education meeting

During its March 8–9 meeting, the State Board of Education laid the groundwork for developing updates to the 2023 California School Dashboard, which will be finalized later this year.

The 2022 California School Dashboard, released in December following a two-year pause prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted chronic absenteeism as a particularly troubling indicator, with 30 percent of students marked as chronically absent in 2021–22. Cindy Kazanis, director of the California Department of Education’s Educational Data Management Division, noted there are early indications that chronic absenteeism — which includes both excused and unexcused absences — continues to be a challenge for schools.

Board Vice President Cynthia Glover Woods called on local educational agencies to dig into why chronic absenteeism data is what it is in their communities and not simply assume that it’s the result of the pandemic. “There may be other causes,” she said, “but we do need to acknowledge that the pandemic and the response and the messaging that we have given to schools and families has had some impact. The messaging has been that … students should stay home for their safety as well as the safety of staff [when sick], so I do have a strong belief that that has had an impact on the past chronic absenteeism data.”

Board leaders questioned the possibility of indicating on the Dashboard through disaggregated data whether students missed out on instructional time as a result of COVID precautions or other events outside of their control.

“We’re going to have to think about chronic absenteeism differently,” said Board President Linda Darling-Hammond. “I don’t think we can assume [this] will be a blip from the pandemic. I think we’re going to continue to see climate-related disasters and other things that confuse the question of … students not getting to school when they could and should versus not being able to be in school. I do think we’re going to have to continue to think about how to evaluate that indicator and maybe even reconsider the way in which we disaggregate or collect the data.”

The board provided guidance on the proposed 2023 accountability work plan and discussed changes for several indicators and topics ahead of the release of the 2023 Dashboard. Considerations included:

English Learner Progress Indicator (ELPI) — The CDE will work to complete the ELPI by establishing both Change cut scores and a Performance Level color grid. Additionally, the performance of students who take the alternative English Learner Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) will be incorporated into the ELPI.

Anticipating significant public comment surrounding adjustments to the cut scores, Glover Woods noted that, while adjustments may need to be made, it’s necessary to first see the full picture. “This will be the first year since we’ve had a break that we’re going to have the Performance Level grid based on both Status and Change, similar to some of our other indicators.”

Echoing Glover Woods’ comments during public comment, CSBA Legislative Advocate Carlos Machado asked that the board “retain the cut scores that were previously set for at least the 2023 Dashboard cycle. The complete ELPI indicator will be an important tool to LEAs to identify improvements that will help serve the needs of English learners.”

Graduation Rate Indicator — Following recent board discussion, the CDE is developing a multi-year graduation rate that extends beyond the current combined four- and five-year graduation rate to assist Dashboard Alternative Status Schools (DASS) in showing a more accurate picture of the progress of their students. This work may require an amendment to the state Every Student Succeeds Act Plan to reflect the use of a multi-year graduation rate to determine eligibility for support.

College/Career Indicator (CCI) — Now with two years of available data, the CDE will work with relevant interest groups to determine if four new career measures (Internships, Student-led enterprise, Simulated work-based learning and Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) meet the validity requirements for inclusion in the CCI and what the “prepared” and “approaching prepared” criteria should be for graduates. Staff is also working with partners to develop a new civic engagement measure for potential inclusion in the CCI, and soliciting feedback on another career measure (Industry certifications) to define and identify what data should be collected.

Priority 1: Local indicator update to align the Dashboard with additional data per California Education Code — The CDE will evaluate and provide recommendations to the board on the addition of data on least restrictive environment, reporting science assessment data, and establishing objective criteria for Priority 1 teacher assignment. Department staff noted that teacher assignment data represents only one of three components included within Priority 1, and that additional work will need be completed in 2023 to report these data accurately and appropriately in future Dashboards.

Development of student-level growth model visualizations — The CDE will prepare for the release of the initial set of student growth data in 2024 by developing communication tools to assist the public, schools and families in interpreting and understanding the purpose of the data. The release will use California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) summative assessment scores from the 2021–22, 2022–23 and 2023–24 school years for the initial set of individual student-level growth data.

Address data quality and participation issues uniformly on the Dashboard — The department is exploring the alignment of implications for LEAs who fail to certify data in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) or, following submission, report to the CDE that the data is incorrect. The CDE will also review the current participation rate penalty for the ELPAC and provide suggestions for alignment to the participation rate for English Language Arts and Mathematics indicators.

Full descriptions and more can be found in attachment one in the agenda item.

School Climate Indicator

At its January meeting, the board provided feedback to improve the current local indicator self-reflection tool for Priority 6 of the Local Control Funding Formula: School Climate. The discussion centered on issues related to the frequency of climate survey administration, disaggregation of student groups and the possibility of implementing a standard set of survey questions to be used by all LEAs.

LEAs use the self-reflection tools included within the California School Dashboard to report their progress on the local performance indicator. The current self-reflection tool requires LEAs to provide a narrative summary of the local administration and analysis of a local climate survey, which is to be conducted at least every other year, that captures a valid measure of student perceptions of school safety and connectedness in at least one grade within the grade span (e.g., K–5, 6–8, 9–12).

Proposed edits adopted by the board March 9 include an introductory section that describes the importance of school climate, research in support of positive school climate and the need to use current data to inform comprehensive planning, as well as instructions to provide LEAs with clarified guidance to address the narrative portion. The proposed tool divides the narrative into three separate prompts that require LEAs to describe the local data including data disaggregated by student group, key learnings including identified needs and areas of strength, and changes needed to address local needs.

In other State Board meeting news:

  • The board took part in a study session on assessment innovations that can better support teaching and learning. Board members engaged in both facilitated, moderated discussion and informal small group discussions about the state’s assessment system, and emerging trends and examples of how other states are creating more balanced assessment systems.
  • The board approved the second cohort of California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) planning grantees.
  • The board heard from CDE staff about the challenges LEAs continue to face related to staffing, rigor, access and more in providing students opportunities to earn the State Seal of Civic Engagement (SSCE). CDE staff said it continues to support local efforts to increase SSCE access and attainment in rural or otherwise underserved regions, as well as in alternative educational settings.
  • The board approved another round of Career Technical Education Incentive Grant allocations for fiscal year 2022–23.

The next State Board meeting is scheduled for May 17–18, 2023. View the full meeting calendar.