Board Members Urge Caution in SPF Transition

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At the October 17, 2016 Work Session board members discussed how best to transition to the 2016 School Performance Framework or SPF, following a year without an SPF after the implementation of more rigorous state standards and assessments. Superintendent Tom Boasberg and board members all urged educators and parents to exercise caution when using this year’s SPF, as the SPF will be the first one with the new state assessments and will only contain one year of student growth data as opposed to the usual two years.

DPS created and began using its school ratings framework in 2008, before the state launched its own system. While the two systems measure some of the same indicators, DPS uses a broader set of measures and continues to focus on measures aligned to our vision of ensuring every child is prepared for success in college, career and life. Examples of indicators on the DPS SPF that are not considered in state ratings include:

  • Student and parent satisfaction measures.
  • Early literacy measures, including the growth of students reading significantly below grade level and kindergartners reading at grade level.
  • English language learners on track on the ACCESS assessment.
  • College readiness measures, including the percentage of students required to take remedial classes when they enter college.

In addition, schools are expected to receive an equity indicator on this year’s SPF, which

aggregates and highlights existing measures around student growth and achievement gaps. The district expects to set a minimum threshold on the equity indicator for a school to be rated as Green (Meets Expectations) for the fall 2017 SPF.

Boasberg described the district SPF as more comprehensive than the state SPF and a better gauge of whether a school is graduating all students ready for college and career. But he also noted this year’s SPF is different than previous years’, including only one year’s worth of growth data instead of the typical two years. Only having one year of growth is likely to lead to spikes up or down in school results and is less demonstrative of performance trends than the use of two years of data.

That possibility, combined with tougher tests and some changes in indicators between the 2014 and 2016 SPF, prompted several board members to urge caution in how the 2016 school ratings are communicated and received by stakeholders.

“I’d like us to consider some kind of transition,” said board member Mike Johnson. “In the long run, I’m in favor of going to harder standards, but in these unique circumstances, I think some kind of transition is appropriate.”

Boasberg thanked board members for the conversation and said he hoped to have a final recommendation by week’s end.

“There is no system that is ever going to be perfect,” he said. “The way we do the SPF is far more comprehensive and reliable than we’ve seen elsewhere, statewide and nationally. But there are many different ways to approach this question. We need to do so with humility and caution.”