ACSA voice is heard on accountability system

With the state closing in on the launch of the first phase of the new accountability and continuous improvement system, ACSA has taken a leadership role in pushing for cooperation with stakeholders, in addition to providing valuable resources to district and site leaders, parents, and members of the community.

“ACSA stands ready to collaborate with the State Board of Education, California Department of Education, and other stakeholders as we strive towards supporting a successful rollout and implementation of the new system,” said Terri Rufert, superintendent of Sundale UESD.

Rufert testified before the Board last week, urging members to keep school climate as a local indicator, and continue to allow districts the flexibility to use a variety of local measures for those that do not use the California Healthy Kids Survey. She highlighted some issues ACSA members have raised regarding English Learner definitions in the new accountability system.

“Our members are concerned there are currently three different definitions for English Learners in the new accountability system, and caution that this inconsistency will result in confusion with teachers and parents,” she said. “When districts have multiple definitions, it makes it more difficult to have discussions with stakeholders and to determine needs because they are talking about different issues at different times. Inconsistent definitions also create challenges for schools to track data and make the system much more complex.”

Rufert also encouraged the CDE staff to continue to translate the materials and documents used into multiple languages so administrators can reach out to a larger segment of the parent and stakeholder community.

During her testimony, Rufert made note of a new, two-minute video produced by ACSA highlighting the key components of the California School Dashboard. The free video is now available on the ACSA YouTube channel, as well as on ACSA’s Accountability resource page.

Watch the video now.

ACSA’s Task Force on Accountability and Continuous Improvement is taking a holistic approach in reviewing the first phase of the accountability system. One of the goals is to inform SBE and CDE staff on policy areas and technical details that need to be re-examined during the second phase of the system and submit-ting a comprehensive letter to the Board.

Over the coming months, the Board will be considering possible changes to several state indicators during the second phase of the accountability system. They include strengthening the College and Career Indicator with additional career metrics, developing an individual student growth measure by fall 2018, exploring whether to include long-term English learner data on the English Learner Progress Indicator, and including data on Chronic Absenteeism by fall 2017.

The Board will also need to consider the metrics that could be incorporated into an accountability system supporting the unique circumstances of alternative schools, an effort that could take 12-18 months. As part of this initial conversation, Elsbeth Prigmore, principal of a continuation high school in Shasta Union High School District and ACSA Board Director from Region 1, participated in a panel to inform the Board of the unique circumstances students in alternative education settings face, and why a differentiated accountability system is necessary.

Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez testified in strong support of the Board’s direction in implementing the new multi-dimensional accountability system.

“To keep our state’s public schools moving forward, we need clear and useful account-ability measures,” she said. “Measures that help us monitor what’s working and what isn’t, sensible ways to direct and track the use of resources, and safeguards that ensure responsible actions across the system.”

Alvarez described the dashboard as a key methodology for school districts and schools to have increased access to the information they need to make the best decisions about how to direct their resources to improve the education of their children. This data places equity at the front and center of local conversations in efforts to close the achievement and opportunity gaps, a key priority for ACSA.

“We are encouraged by the Board’s focus on continuous improvement (through a lens of status and change) and on building the capacity of the school, district and county leaders in an effort to improve the opportunities available to all of our students,” she said.

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