How an East L.A. school received a boost from new state education ratings

EAST LOS ANGELES — The state’s new method to measure a school’s academic performance appears to be more generous than the old system in offering positive assessments of how a school is doing, reports The L.A. Times. Case in point is Brooklyn Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles.

The new California School Dashboard replaces the Academic Performance Index. Instead of API’s numeric score, the new dashboard grades schools on a curve and provides a color-coded gauge of a school’s performance in different areas, from math to suspension rates. Blue represents the highest performance while red is a sign of trouble.

But the release of the new dashboard has been criticized for being much more difficult to understand than the API scores and for possibly being too easy on schools.

The Times notes that about 80% of schools in grades 3 through 8 were rated as medium- to high-performing under the new dashboard this year. However, under last year’s old standards, most of students at the same schools failed to attain English and math standards, said the Times. Brooklyn Avenue Elementary is an example of that dramatic change. Says The Times:

“Brooklyn Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles — whose principal did not immediately respond to requests for comment — is a case study in how the friendly curve might change opinions without schools changing much at all. When test scores for the 2015-16 academic school year were released, just above half of Brooklyn’s students failed to meet state goals for math. Now, in its math marks on the dashboard, Brooklyn earns blue — the highest rating. That’s because Brooklyn’s math scores grew by 16 points.”

State education officials defended the dashboard for rewarding schools that show growth and improvement.

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