LAUSD Is Trying to Keep Important Student Data From Parents, and Jackie Goldberg Is Leading That Effort

This fall, L.A. Unified was planning to release a new tool that would explore achievement, social and emotional learning, school climate, equity, and the holistic portrait of each school within LAUSD. The School Performance Framework (SPF) was meant to be a tool that would help parents research schools in their community to help them find the best school based on their child’s needs. But now the SPF is in danger. Recently elected Board Member Jackie Goldberg is bringing a resolution to the board this Tuesday, November 5th, to sabotage the SPF. 

Since the resolution passed last April with a vote from the board of 6-1, parents, teachers, and community members have been working hard to put this framework together. Last October, I joined the working group that provided input for this framework. During these working group meetings, we discussed what kind of indicators should be included, we discussed the importance of social emotional learning, and we reviewed different framework models currently used by Oakland, Denver, and New York City school districts. We also discussed the importance of student growth data and the difference between growth versus change. Student change data tracks different groups of students who enter a certain grade, and the change between that group and the next group that enter the same grade. Student growth data tracks the growth of a cohort of students from one grade to the next to clearly see their progress.

Growth data allows us to follow a group of students through their educational journey and gain a clearer picture of how a student has progressed through the years. For example, there might be a school that doesn’t necessarily have a high score but that doesn’t mean students aren’t learning. Board Member Kelly Gonez gave an example of this during a committee meeting a few weeks ago. 

“I have examples of schools in my district, one where incoming 6th graders are coming in at an average 2nd grade reading level and then in math they are at an average 1st grade level. And based on the school’s dashboard, the school doesn’t look great,” Gonez said. “But if you looked at the growth, they were actually one of the schools who received a growth award from CORE because kids are growing a full reading level before the winter break even happens. And that’s tremendous progress that we should celebrate and that we should acknowledge, but there is no place in our system right now to do that.” 

As I mentioned, one of the main issues we discussed during these working group meetings was parents being able to use this tool to help them find the right school for their child. Currently, the only tool available is the California State Dashboard, which is not user friendly for most, especially parents. And if you’re a parent whose first language is not English, it could be really difficult to navigate. At the same time, if you are the parent of an English Language Learner who is behind grade level, you may want to know which schools, like the one mentioned above, are doing the best job helping students catch up. Another problem with the California State Dashboard is that it does not include student growth data.

You might be wondering why is this useful tool now in jeopardy? Well, some board members think it might make students and staff feel bad about the school they attend if it has a low rating. The School Performance Framework would have categorized schools into five different categories including; Model, Sustain, Reinforce, Watch, and Intervene. There was also a star rating from 5 stars to 1 star, depending on which category the school was in. This might sound similar to Yelp, but instead of being based only on public opinions, this would have been based on collected data and test scores. Some critics of the framework have said things like, “We don’t need Yelp, we need help.” How can we help the neediest schools if we don’t know which ones they are?

Like I said in my public comment at the LAUSD committee meeting, “It’s unfortunate that we have to ask and almost beg for the student growth data to be released. When every single state in the country, except for California and Kansas, makes this data accessible. This is not Kansas. This is California, and we are in the largest school district in the state, second largest in the country. We should have this information and a framework to go with it.” 

I personally want the original framework in its entirety to be available to parents. The time and money was already spent. The framework was originally supposed to launch last month in time for magnet schools, eChoices enrollment, but now it is on hold. My hope is that at the very least, the board releases the student growth data and extends the enrollment deadline for eChoices. With the student growth data, parents will be able to see which schools are closing gaps for students and which ones need more support. Shouldn’t this be about improving student outcomes and improving our schools? 

As far as making someone feel bad because their school is not doing well, I think a student is going to feel a lot worse when they get to college, if they get to college, and they find they are not prepared because they did not get the education they deserved and they were unaware of it.

What do you think?
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Roxann Nazario

Roxann Nazario

Roxann Nazario is a charter parent living in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Born and mostly raised in the Valley, Roxann experienced her own struggles as a student in LAUSD. In order to ensure that her daughter would receive the education she deserved, Roxann made sure she was an active parent volunteer at her daughter's charter school. From field trips, to book fairs, to her daughter's charter school renewal, Roxann has made a point not only to advocate for her daughter's education, but she advocates for all children attending LAUSD schools. She campaigned for Kelly Gonez during her campaign for school board member of board district 6. She fought against SB 808, a proposed bill that would deny charter schools the right to appeal if their charter was denied by their local school board. Even though Roxann's daughter attends an amazing and well-known charter school, the school did not have an active parent group. So Roxann teamed up with one of her fellow charter moms from the same school, and with the school's blessing, they started a parent group called, "Parent Voice." Most recently, she was involved in a "Teach-In"/Rally in front of the California Democratic Party Convention that took place in San Diego in February of this year to advocate against the California Democratic Party passing a moratorium resolution on charter schools. Roxann and five fellow charter school mothers, all from board district 6, are being awarded with the Hart Vision Award for Parent Volunteer of the Year at the 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference taking place on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.

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