After a three-year void, California has implemented a new method to judge public school performance. The replacement for the heavily criticized API scores the state used to produce is drawing its own criticism.
API scores were a single-number generated for each school from test scores and graduation rates. The new system is more of a report card with multiple categories, including absenteeism, college readiness, and parent engagement.
In July, the state School Board mocked up how it might put post school scores online for parents, and … it was a mess the LA Times called “baffling.”
"We support the multiple measures that you are taking," Jose Molines, a father of three, testifies before the board’s vote through a translator. "But this colored rubric gives us a slightly confusing idea."
Some education groups say conflicts between the new state standards and federal rules will deepen the confusion—that California may have to adopt both systems. And, Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber argued the state standards don’t track low-performing students.
"The state board should set specific improvement standards that require greater improvement from students who are farthest behind," says Weber.
Weber has authored a bill to do that, which is now before the governor.
But school districts and teachers unions support the new standard, and backers say the kinks will get worked out over time.
Teri Burns of the California School Boards Association testified in favor.
"As we have more experience with the better data and new efforts, we’re confident the achievement gaps will continue to close more quickly," says Burns.
Approval of the new standards comes before an Oct. 1 deadline, and three years after the state did away with API scores, as part of an overhaul of how the state funds schools.