What academic measures are most important?

Access to High-Quality Schools | 02/29/2020

Leilani Siens
Parent Leader

I want to take a minute to update you on where DPS is in updating the School Performance Framework (SPF). 

The committee has decided on three core areas to measure in the SPF: academics, whole child, and school culture. This committee has insisted that equity must be the priority of all of these measures — a lens through which we should filter all of our work.

After much debate, the committee for reimagining the SPF has decided to go to the state framework for academics. The issue with this approach is that it is not as nuanced as even the snapshot offered by the current DPS SPF. The state framework places an almost exclusive emphasis on academic performance. And while academic performance is important, the state framework emphasizes “status” more than growth, which doesn’t match up with the committee’s constant call for measures that relate to equity.

Status shows how students measure up to the current grade level standards expected for each student. However, if a student comes in far below grade level — even if a teacher helps that student make two years of growth — they still may not be meeting grade level expectations.

I want an SPF that values the work of bringing students who are behind closer to their peers more than the yes/no question of, “Are you meeting grade level expectations?” Ideally, schools would be accountable to both, but with an emphasis on growth.

As the committee continues to meet, it seems like they will add in other indicators for whole child and school culture, but I am not convinced focusing more on status is what parents in this district would want to see happen if they were involved in this process.

You tell us: What academic measures are most important for you in evaluating the quality of a school?


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