Anxious anticipation

These graduates can hardly wait to accept their diplomas.

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) launched on Thursday, Dec. 12, the 2019 California School Dashboard, a key component of the state’s school accountability system. The Dashboard includes the latest data available on 2018–19 graduation rates, suspension rates, test scores, English learner progress, college/career readiness, and chronic absenteeism.

“The California School Dashboard is a data-driven approach to provide the ‘whole picture’ of a school for educators and parents,” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond. “The Dashboard empowers local communities to identify opportunities and resources to better serve their students, and provides parents and educators with meaningful information on school and district progress so they can participate in plans to improve student learning.”

The Dashboard also shows that California public schools are making progress on four out of six statewide indicators: The statewide graduation rate increased 2.2 percentage points from 83.7 percent to 85.9 percent. The suspension rate fell slightly from 3.5 percent to 3.4 percent. The college/career readiness rate grew 1.8 percent—44.1 percent of students are now deemed ready for college when they graduate from high school. Both math and English language arts (ELA) test scores are up: a 2.9 point increase in math and a 3.1 point increase in ELA.

Locally, the Redlands Unified School District (RUSD) and San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) each showed improvement. Both districts increased their graduation rate by 1.7 percent, RUSD to 92.5 percent and SBCUSD to 93.6 percent, performing well above the state average. For SBCUSD, this represents a record high graduation rate.

“For an urban school district like ours, helping more students graduate is paramount to improving our community’s economic vitality,” SBCUSD Superintendent Dale Marsden said the graduation rate. “And, knowing that SBCUSD is preparing more and more students for high-demand, high-paying jobs makes me so proud.”

Based on the Smarter Balanced assessment tests, 57.16 percent of RUSD students met or exceeded the English languages standard and 44.21 percent met or exceeded the math standard.

For the San Bernardino district, 40.15 percent of students met or exceeded the English standard and 27.29 percent met or exceeded the math standard.

Countywide, 44.59 percent of students met the English standard and 31.48 percent met or exceeded the math standard.

The Dashboard reports the RUSD college readiness rate at 54. 6 percent and the SBCUSD rate at 40.3 percent.

Because of steady progress, the number of school districts eligible for state assistance based on Dashboard indicators fell from 386 last year to 333. Thirty-two charter schools are also eligible for the first time for state support.

Achievement gaps are narrowing in several areas statewide, although significant disparities remain. For example, African Americans showed the largest graduation rate gain among student groups with an increase of 6.2 percent for a total of 78.6 percent of students graduating. The graduation rate for foster youth increased by 4.2 percent for a total of 64.2 percent. By comparison, the graduation rate for white students increased 1.3 percent during that same time period for a total of 89.1 percent. Students with disabilities made the greatest gains in math (6.6-point improvement) and English language arts (7.6 points).

The Dashboard also shows a troubling 1.1 percent rise in chronic absenteeism to 10.1 percent. Students in grades K–8 are considered chronically absent if they miss 10 percent or more of expected days of attendance.

RUSD maintained its 11 percent chronic absenteeism from the previous year while SBCUSD chronic absenteeism increased by 1.4 percent, to 15 percent.

Possible issues that may have contributed to the increase include rising homelessness, work stoppages, and natural disasters/weather, which affect health, housing and transportation. County offices of education will be working with districts to determine specific local causes.

The Dashboard launch marks the first time the state has released the Dashboard and DataQuest reports on graduation rates, suspension rates and chronic absenteeism rates simultaneously, reinforcing California’s move to a multiple measures accountability system.

Also new this year, the Dashboard has been translated into three more languages—Vietnamese, Tagalog and Mandarin—in addition to Spanish and English.

The Dashboard is a key component of California’s 5-year overhaul of the state’s school accountability system. It displays statewide data based on current year data (how each school or district performed) and prior year data (how much they have improved or declined from one year to the next). School and district performance levels are indicated by color, with red the lowest and blue the highest. The Dashboard also breaks down information by student group (low-income, English learner, foster youth, etc.) to help pinpoint and address achievement gaps.

The Dashboard is available online at

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