State releases another data tool potentially more useful than new dashboard

March 15, 2017
Kindergarten students listening to classmates present their stories at Booksin Elementary in San Jose.

Kindergarten students listening to classmates at Booksin Elementary in San Jose.

Separate from its new California School Dashboard, the California Department of Education has prepared another online resource that some school officials say may be more useful than the dashboard itself. It consists of color grids showing a breakdown of how every school in a district did on each performance indicator, with links to each school’s dashboard report.

The California Model Five-by-Five Placement Reports & Data, as the site is called, is a one-stop school comparison tool that will enable parents, teachers and district administrators to identify high-performing schools that could serve as models and low-performing schools as priorities for help in a district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

“The Five-by-Five reports are where most people will gravitate to for the most useful information,” said Sanger Unified Superintendent Matt Navo.

School districts’ overall performance could mask low-performing schools and student subgroups that the Five-by-Five reports would show. San Jose Unified, for example, scored in the top half of districts statewide in all five indicators on the state’s dashboard. It earned green ratings for its suspension and graduation rates, as well as for its English language arts and math test scores. It earned a yellow rating for English learner progress.

But the district’s Five-by Five reports revealed disparities among schools and subgroups. Pacific Islanders were ranked red on the math test and orange on the English test, while students with disabilities ranked red on the English test and orange on the math test, as well as in suspension and graduation rates. English learners ranked orange on suspension rates.

Six out of 39 district schools were rated orange in suspension rates, including five elementary schools and San Jose High School. That high school also earned an orange for its graduation rate of 83.7 percent and was among seven schools in the district rated red for English learner progress. Seven more district schools were rated orange in that category.

Source: California Department of Education

This is a section of the Five-by-Five Placement grid showing how San Jose Unified’s schools did on the Smarter Balanced English language arts test for grades 3 to 8. The horizontal axis measures performance over time. The vertical axis measures results on the latest test. A school’s color is the intersection of the two.

The Five-by-Five refers to a grid that displays a school’s performance color on an indicator, like high school graduation rates, by combining two factors: the most recent results, called status, and performance over time, called change. The grid captures trends. In San Jose, for example, Olinder, Galarza and Washington elementary schools scored in the same range on the Smarter Balanced math test. But Olinder’s scores significantly declined in the second year of the test, so its overall performance was red. Galarza declined but not as much, so it was orange. Washington’s scores stayed about the same so it was yellow. The state will eventually use a four-year average to determine change.

District spokesman Peter Allen said the district plans to use all of the information in its upcoming LCAP meetings, as well as in meetings to update its strategic plan.

“We’re actually really excited by this report because it helps us drill down to those areas where there’s a need, and it also helps identify where we’re doing really well,” he said.

“The Five-by-Five report tells a district where to put resources. This is a really positive snapshot that may be more helpful than the dashboard from a planning perspective,” said Rob Manwaring, senior policy and fiscal adviser to the nonprofit Children Now.

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