School districts and charter schools serving 1.7 million students in California will compile, analyze and compare data on student performance beyond what the state collects under a new agreement announced last week.
The additional data will include information on school climate and students’ social emotional skills that the state will not initially measure under the new school accountability system that the State Board of Education adopted this month.
The CORE Data Collaborative marks an expansion of the work of eight large urban districts that make up the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE.
The CORE districts came together three years ago to design their own school performance index under a federal government waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. That waiver, which gave the districts more flexibility to spend federal dollars for low-income students, has ended. But the districts and new partners say their work will mesh with the state’s new school accountability system.
The new state system will evaluate schools and districts using common metrics, such as student graduation and suspension rates, college and career readiness benchmarks and standardized tests scores. But it also will allow districts to set their own goals for school improvement using different metrics.
The CORE collaborative will branch into areas that the state board may consider including later, such as a measure of middle school students’ readiness for high school and surveys and self-evaluations to measure school climate and students’ sense of their social emotional skills and habits of mind, like perseverance. The CORE districts also have developed their own methodology to predict and compare schools’ academic growth on test scores.
“The network gives our districts better access to information and resources to improve school performance and student outcomes,” David Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools, said in a statement when the announcement was made last week.
The founding districts are Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, Santa Ana, San Francisco, Oakland, Garden Grove and Sacramento City. Joining them will be districts in Sacramento and Riverside counties, San Bernardino City Unified, East Side Union High School District and feeder districts in San Jose, Sweetwater Union High School District, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools and the Oxnard school districts. Together their students make up about 30 percent of the state’s K-12 enrollment and will add suburban and rural districts to the mix.
The six founding CORE districts that got the federal waiver — Garden Grove and Sacramento City opted out — are asking the state board to grant them a pilot status, which would let them continue their own version of the state’s accountability measures. Other members of the data collaborative would receive CORE’s school index reports, with information not required under the state accountability system, which they could use as they choose.
The collaborative has established a research partnership with Policy Analysis in California Education (PACE), a Stanford University-based nonprofit, to analyze data for patterns contributing to student success. The partnership’s studies can guide statewide policy, said David Plank, executive director of PACE.
Plank said that the data collaborative is doing the kind of work that the state should be doing but isn’t.
“Under Governor Brown, California has refused to develop the comprehensive education data system that would be required to support continuous improvement in districts and schools that is foreseen under the Local Control Funding Formula,” he said in an email. “The data system that they’ve created and the expansion of the Data Collaborative are critically important steps toward realizing the promise of LCFF.”
Other districts and charter schools can join the collaborative. The costs range from $28,280 for a district with fewer than 1,000 students to $56,000 for a district with more than 100,000 students.