I’m worried about the direction DPS is headed. We are on a path where parents could lose access to critical information about how their child’s school is doing. You should be worried, too.
About six months ago, I joined the DPS “Reimagining the School Performance Framework (SPF)” committee. I joined the committee, in part, because my eldest child, Maddie, struggled academically. I was eager to dive into this committee to think about how we could collect more or different data and paint a clearer picture of how schools were serving students.
Backing up a bit – just to catch you up in case you aren’t too familiar with the SPF – it’s essentially the tool that we in DPS use to measure how well schools are doing and to hold them accountable, including offering them additional supports based on their overall rating. That said, most parents I know think of it as the color rating that helps them choose their schools.
My first encounter with the SPF was trying to choose a middle school for my daughter and we had used the SPF in the enrollment guide to try to determine whether it would be worthwhile to drive her across town to a different school with a specific leadership focus rather than just sending her to our neighborhood school. I didn’t have a lot of information to guide me in this process—our friends had not yet navigated middle school, so no one had any recommendations. In the end, I saw and continue to see the SPF as a way to get the information you need to make an informed decision as to where to send your child to school.
Now, this committee is going to determine what needs to change about the way we hold schools accountable and what information parents receive about school quality. To be honest, my experience with this committee has often been frustrating. And the more conversations I have about the measurement tools and the factors we must consider, the more complex and nuanced—and sometimes overwhelming—this charge has become. Nonetheless, as one of just a few parents selected for this committee, I now believe more than ever that parents must drive the conversation about school quality and what we measure in the SPF because we measure what we care about. Over the course of the next few weeks, I want to share my journey on this committee with you, including the tough topics we’ve wrestled with and hear from you about your experiences with the SPF.
Note: After attending a majority of the SPF Committee meetings, Leilani needed to step down from the committee due to family commitments.