August 24 | San Diego Union-Tribune

By The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board

The State Board of Education must submit its plan by next month and appears satisfied with a version released Aug. 8. On Thursday, Bellwether Education Partners — a national nonprofit think tank — released its evaluation of California’s proposal. While praising the plan’s vision of a first-rate education of all, the analysis is sharply critical of the plan’s most crucial components. The biggest complaints:

  • The plan wouldn’t even manage to “capture individual students’ improvement over time.”

  • The plan is vague about how the state would identify the worst-performing schools, how it would intervene to improve their results and how it would measure progress in targeted schools. Under the current language, these schools could be found to have complied with state guidelines “without making any improvements.”

  • It is unclear how the plan’s “dashboard” concept of using several factors to evaluate school quality would actually work, in particular how much value it would place on the performance of ethnic groups.

In other words, the State Board of Education has come up with an anti-accountability accountability plan — one that would make it difficult for Californians to figure out which students and what schools are improving; to know whether schools deemed as improving have actually improved; and to assess how well districts are doing with the state’s neediest students, its 1.4 million English-language learners.

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