State school ratings are out and they don’t mean much

Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is using a new school rating system where they are now labelling schools across Illinois as “underperforming” and a whole host of other unproductive names. Many of their ratings are in utter contradiction to CPS’ rating, and there are many schools that are now Level 1 according to CPS and “underperforming” or even “lowest performing” according to the state.

Chalkbeat: Illinois report card: 94 Chicago schools earn low performance rating

WBEZ: What’s A Grade Worth? State Vs. CPS Ratings Mismatch

Why the disparity? Seventy percent of the score from the state is based on the PARCC test. This test has been dumped by almost every state that chose to use it orginally due to its many problems. IL has already gotten rid of PARCC for spring 2019 and replaced it with a mostly new test that will include some PARCC questions, the IL Assessment of Readiness. So how can 70% of an elementary school’s quality be meaningfully determined by an obsolete test?

CPS uses the NWEA MAP test to determine a school’s “quality”, and 60% of the rating is derived from this metric.

For high school ratings, graduation rate is the the primary driver of differing ratings: 50% of the score from the state is determined by graduation rate. For CPS, grad rate is just 12.5% of the metric.

What does this mean? These labels are arbitrary, misleading, and omit so much of what matters in determining school quality, yet they guide perception, real estate values, enrollment trends and much more.

Read our sister org Raise Your Hand’s parent guide on how to talk about high quality education.

Find resources from RYH’s forum last winter on school ratings systems here.


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