This review of 25 school quality rating systems, written by Public Impact for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, reveals clear trends that may help rating system designers and users think about optimal system designs. The rating systems inventoried include some from state departments of education, large public school districts, charter associations and authorizers, and private news and advocacy organizations. Among the trends found were: the inclusion of student growth; the expansion of college- and career-readiness measures; an exploration of new ways to focus attention on the lowest-performing students; an interest in valid measures of student engagement; simplified reporting formats to categorize school quality; and an increase in data transparency and public accessibility. The review foresees a stronger system for evaluating quality across states following the adoption of Common Core-aligned assessments.
Assessment and Data
In 2008, Ohio added a new “value-added” component to its accountability system, which examines the academic gains made by students over the course of the school year. This 12 page primer, written by Bryan Hassel and Jacob Rosch for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is designed to help non-specialists such as journalists, policymakers and the general public understand the basics of value-added, and what it means for schools and children in Ohio.
This paper by Bryan C. Hassel explores two cutting-edge trends that have revolutionized organizations in other sectors: mining the mountain of data generated by the daily activities of employees and customers, and tapping the “wisdom of crowds.” Appearing in the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s volume A Byte at the Apple: Rethinking Education Data for the Post-NCLB Era, the chapter highlights the experience of organizations ranging from Amazon.com and Google to Wal-Mart, Capital One, and the NYC Police Department to describe how these techniques have made quantum leaps possible in other sectors. Potential education applications include learning from the “clicktrails” that students leave behind as they engage in software-based activities; inexpensive randomization of instructional techniques to spur more rapid learning about “what works”; and tapping the wisdom of teachers nationwide to enable the best lesson plans to rise to the top. View Fordham’s webcast of the release event here.
This series is part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s multi-year effort to develop a “results-based accountability” (RBA) approach to its K-12 education portfolio. Though still a work in progress, the Foundation’s experience with RBA can help other philanthropic organizations and individual donors develop their own approaches to producing and documenting the results of their investments. Public Impact’s Sarah Crittenden and Bryan Hassel have been helping the Foundation with a series of reports on its approach. The first describes the Foundation’s overall approach to RBA. The second explains the Program’s vision, theory of change and theory of action. The third is a guidebook to help Program grantees understand performance measurement, select performance measures, set performance goals, and report performance results. It also includes an Excel template for reporting on performance measures.