What happens when you look past school test scores?

This week California’s State Board of Education will consider what measures beyond test scores should be included in the state’s new accountability system for public schools.

In a shift away from the state’s exclusive reliance on standardized tests, the board is mulling the incorporation of multiple metrics such as suspension and graduation rates in determining how well a school is performing.

Important questions on which metrics to use won’t be answered until later this fall. One possible model can be found in a scoring system that already applies to more than 1,100 California schools and about 20 percent of California students.

Six of the largest school districts in California, known as the California Office for Reforming Education (CORE) districts, employ a multi-measure approach to evaluate schools. Every school in the district receives a single score of up to 100. Sixty percent of that score is awarded based on a school’s academic metrics–primarily standardized test scores. The remaining 40 percent is awarded based on factors such as chronic absenteeism and suspension rates, or what CORE refers to as school climate.

Below you’ll find a series of graphs that compare how elementary schools in these districts perform on the academic and school climate components of the accountability score. How well a school’s students perform on standardized tests correlates highly with school climate. However, there are some exceptions to that rule, especially in certain districts such as Santa Ana where school climate appears to be relatively divorced from academics.

You can search for individual schools in the search box in the upper right hand corner. We’ve also ranked each elementary school on a scale of 1 to 10, based on its academic and school climate performance relative to all other elementary schools in CORE districts. Schools that had scores in the highest 10 percent of CORE schools received a 10, schools that had a scores in the next highest 10 percent received a 9, and so on. Rollover schools to find their rankings on academic and school climate scores. These highly simplified ratings are the work of CALmatters and are not part of the CORE district methodology.

You can find the raw data for all CORE schools here.  

Los Angeles Unified

San Francisco Unified

Long Beach Unified

Oakland Unified

Fresno Unified

Santa Ana Unified

All CORE Elementary Schools

Here’s how elementary schools in six urban districts rank when judged on academics and campus climate. Ideally, districts want schools clustered in the upper-right quadrant to signal high test scores and an encouraging atmosphere.

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