California ‘CORE’ Districts to Evaluate Schools Differently


Beginning in February, a group of districts throughout California will begin to evaluate their schools using more than just test scores.

A group made up of some of the largest districts in the state, CORE, is expected to discuss its new plan for measuring public schools in the state at the California School Boards Association Conference in San Diego.

School scores are expected to account not only for academic performance, but also how safe children feel while on campus, suspension rates, skills that cannot be measured by traditional academic tests, such as self-control and social awareness, and how quickly students who do not speak English are learning the language, among other things.  The group hopes that the new measures will offer a broader picture of how schools in California are truly operating.

The group is expected to release preliminary results of the first attempt at using the measures in the coming months.

“We have known for a long time that academic performance is one of many factors that make a great school, but CORE districts are now serving as a model for how we can actually measure these factors and look more holistically at school outcomes,” Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said in a statement. “Educators have created an index that captures more information that matters.”

Previous scores in the state made use of academic exams through a statewide metric referred to as the Academic Performance Index.  However, CORE, made up of six school districts, are expected to begin using the School Quality Index in February.  Each school will receive a score out of 100, writes Joy Resmovits for The Los Angeles Times.

Noah Bookman, CORE’s chief accountability officer, said the goal is to move accountability away from placing blame on schools.  Instead, he called the new system a “flashlight” that will help show schools how to make improvements.  The new index will hold schools accountable to tougher standards ensuring that students who are typically overlooked are accounted for.

The changes are set to occur at the same time that a replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act was approved by the House of Representatives, called the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The new law will place more power into the hands of individual states in terms of the identification and disciplining of school who are not performing as well as they should, writes Louis Freedberg for EdSource.

According to California Board of Education President Mike Kirst, API should be fully replaced by July.  However, he noted that he will be watching CORE throughout the process, as he is not convinced by the way it weighs each measure in creating the final score, although he does approve of the new system.

“In some ways, these indicators are apples, bananas and oranges,” he said. “You throw them into a blender and you get a smoothie — I don’t see how you get one number.”