The rating systems inventoried included some from state departments of education, large public school districts, charter associations and authorizers, and private news and advocacy organizations. Among the trends they found among the systems were:
- the inclusion of student growth, useful for evaluating a school’s quality based on its students’ progress–a new standard, the authors say, for quality rating systems.
- the expansion of college- and career-readiness measures–going beyond graduation rates to include important, new indicators.
- an exploration of new ways to focus attention on the lowest-performing students–as the authors say, “great schools are great for all students in the building.”
- an interest in valid measures of student engagement–although systems focus on academic outcomes, some try to capture school culture as well.
- simplified reporting formats to categorize school quality.
- an increase in data transparency and public accessibility–so that a rating system can be judged not just by its accuracy, but by how available its data is to users.
The authors see progress in establishing more meaningful measures of school quality despite the difficulty of comparing school quality across states. They identify useful approaches to creating effective rating systems, and foresee a stronger system for evaluating quality across states following the adoption of Common Core-aligned assessments.