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Existing School Ratings Systems

What makes a school great...and do level ratings measure it?

Cassie Creswell

on 14 February 2018

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Transcript of Existing School Ratings Systems

different systems...
Many different rating systems created/run by different entities for different purposes (accountability, ranking) and different audiences (public, elected officials, parents)
What do our current systems of
school rating look like?

What are the inputs?

What are intended and unintended consequences of a high or low rating
in these systems?

CPs School
Quality Rating Policy
IL's ESSA State Accountability rating
Blue ribbon schools
Test scores
and, for high schools, graduation rate
condition for consideration
: must be in top 15% of schools in state

One category for reducing achievement gap, one for high performing overall.

Can also incorporate measures in addition to test scores via using whatever method the state accountability system uses to rank schools
US NEWS & World
report rankings
~75% of rating based on test scores

Out of 20 points:
5 for Test Score 5
5 for College Readiness (grad rate, AP tests, college entrance exams)
4 for Student Progress Rating (growth in test scores)
3 for Advanced Course 3
3 for Equity (test scores)
existing rating systems
A school with high ratings will attract families and drive enrollment higher.
New GoCPS application system likely to exacerbate this existing trend.
With more tax dollars to spend, schools can afford more teachers, courses, supplies, extracurricular activities...
Demand for a school will increase demand for housing. If housing supply doesn't increase along with demand, cost of housing increases.
The Vicious/virtuous cycle of school ratings
higher EnRollment,
MORE Funding
higher property values,
higher ratings
The more expensive housing is, the wealthier you must be to live there. Costlier housing means richer residents, who have access to the things that lead to higher test scores, fewer absences.
Higher ratings,
higher ratings!
WBEZ found "students of different achievement levels are being sorted into separate high schools"

Schools are being rated on the properties of students that are determined
before they even set foot in the school
~65% test scores
High School:
~25% test scores
High School
Test scores (AP/IB)
Change in test score (SAT, PSAT)
Freshman on-track
1-year dropout
4-year grad rate
AP/IB/College credit
College enrollment
College persistence
Attendance (12.5%)
5 Essentials (10%)
Data Quality Index
Test scores (MAP, ACCESS)
Change in test score (MAP)
Attendance (20%)
5 Essentials (6.25%)
Data Quality Index
Elementary: 75% test scores

High School: 25% test scores

High School
Graduation rate
Chronic Absenteeism
5 Essentials
Freshman on-track
"College and career ready"
Chronic Absenteeism
5 Essentials
Eventually science test score, elementary/middle grade indicator and P-2 indicator to be added. Fine arts indicator is weighted 0%.

Participation <95% results in Tier 2 or lower, after three years Tier 3.
New system developed for change in federal law, post-NCLB.
summative rating: Tiers 1,2,3,4
Test scores
(with some adjustment* for percentage of low-income students); graduation rate; and AP test participation +
*"a school's performance compared with what would be statistically expected for that school in its state, based on its percentage of economically disadvantaged students"
GreatSchools is funded by Gates, Walton, Bloomberg, Helmsley, Zuckerberg,
John & Laura Arnold Foundations
Usually the numerical rating you see on real estate websites
(Participation rate effects test score points)
test scores
Majority of variance (~50-70%) measured by standardized tests can be explained by demographic differences related to socioeconomic status:
Education level of parents
These factors can be used to predict how many students will be "proficient"
"This research also revealed that the living wage index (LWI), the percentage of households in a municipality that can pay their bills, a variable that has never been studied before, was able to predict 71% of the 2013 MCAS language arts test scores and 73% of the 2013 MCAS Grade 4 mathematics test scores within 11 points."
Almost all rating systems depend heavily on test scores and other socio-economically driven stats
Almost all ratings systems
are high-stakes
How do we rate schools NOW?
CPS changed SQRP in 2013 to use
growth not just attainment
in test scores across time
absolute level of test score at one point in time

Intention was to break correlation between attainment and demographic factors: income, wealth, race, language, parent's
formal education level


“National growth percentile”
correlated with % low-income students

Overall level rating is also negatively
with a school’s percentage of low-income students.

So even with "growth" we are still measuring to a large degree the demographics of a school and its community

What about "Growth"?
What Are we really MEASURing?
School Factors
1. Students eligible for free lunch
2. Students known to be in temporary housing
3. Students eligible for welfare benefits
5. Black or Hispanic students
6. Principal turnover
7. Teacher turnover
8. Student turnover
9. Student suspensions
10. Safety score on the Learning Environment Survey
11. Engagement score on the Learning Environment Survey

Neighborhood Factors
12. Involvement with the Administration for Children’s Services
13. Poverty rate
14. Adult education levels
15. Professional employment
16. Male unemployment
17. Presence of public housing in attendance area
18. Presence of a homeless shelter in attendance area
"The absenteeism number is a clear signal that schools have not been able to get a handle on the student- or family-related issues that may be keeping their kids from attending regularly."
"The Influence of Socioeconomic, Parental and District Factors on the 2013 MCAS Grade 4 Language Arts and Mathematics Scores" Caldwell, D. (2017)
A community with high property values generates more revenue for the same tax rate as a community with low property values. The majority of K-12 school funding comes from local property taxes.
Schools receive high ratings when they have students who score well on tests, attend regularly, graduate on time and enroll in college
For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
— Matthew 25:29
The Matthew Effect
Bestow most benefits on the students and communities who already have the most benefits

Favor the demographic that designs/writes/sells standardized tests: Upper/middle-class, white, male, native speakers of prestige dialect of English.

And when efforts are made to desegregate, parents in privileged demographic can complain that their children will suffer from being sent to "failing" school
Result of
the Matthew Effect:
same high stakes
"A Better Picture of Poverty: What Chronic Absenteeism and Risk Load Reveal About NYC’s Lowest-Income Elementary Schools". Nauer, et al. (2014)
Strong predictors of test scores and chronic absenteeism.
Can be used as a measure of whether school is "
truly disadvantaged
Because of student-based budgeting, increased enrollment directly translates to increased funding in Chicago Public Schools. Each additional student means additional dollars
i.e. when the school,
or the community it's in
, has the resources needed to support and engage its students.
The Big Sort
When the stakes are too high...
"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."
High-stakes of school ratings lead to:
Teaching to the test: narrowed curriculum, time spent on test taking techniques
Cheating on tests and on other inputs to rating system, e.g. coaching survey results for 5 Essentials
Direct pressure on children to improve data: lanyards with RIT scores, bribes for scores, participation and attendance
"Juking the stats": tweaking rating system to give impression of increased achievement
Ratings don't provide a full picture of what a school is like
Ratings drive reputation, enrollment, funding & fate of a school
Ratings aren't driving policy implementations that would create truly quality educational environments in all schools
school Closings
CPS SQRP level ratings
correlate with
student income levels

Higher-performing schools will disproportionately be schools with wealthier children. Lower-performing schools will be those with poorer student bodies.

CPS School action policy says necessary condition for closure is existence of a “higher performing” school to move children to.

Overlap of Poverty and school closings
School action guidelines are biased towards disrupting education of and displacing relatively poorer students via school closures and consolidations

Both low enrollment and low ratings are used to justify school closings
Worsen existing inequality and segregation by race and class that already exists from decades of
de jure
segregation in housing and schools
Bias in tests themselves: Designed by and for upper/middle-class, white, male, native speakers of prestige dialect of English.

Stereotype threat: Belonging to group known as "doing poorly on tests" itself hurts performance

Socio-economic factors affecting performance: nutrition, health care, access to extracurricular activities, computers, books, stress and trauma, air pollution, lead
test scores and demographics
In regression model of 2017 level ratings, varying % low-income from 10% low income to 92% low income drops a school by a whole SQRP point.
Levels 1+, 1, 2+, 2, 3
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