School District Dashboard is Coming Up Blue

San Marino Unified School District has, for the most part, maintained or improved its various standings in the California School Dashboard’s mid-year status and change report, which was made public recently.
Overall, the district maintained its “Very Low” suspension rate (which includes all students) and “Very High” mathematics performance (in grades 3-8) while increasing its already “Very High” English language arts performance (grades 3-8) and English learner progress (grades 1-12). The “Very High” graduation rate also was listed as maintained.
“We were pleasantly surprised that we received all blue for the district,” said SMUSD Chief Technology Officer Stephen Choi, referring to the blue pie charts signifying the highest performance in Dashboard. “Even if you maintain and not necessarily increase performance, we still qualify for the blue performance level.”
Dashboard also broke down status changes for individual schools. San Marino High School maintained “Very High” ratings in English learner progress and graduation rate, but posted a 0.5% increase in its suspension rate, which was still ranked “Low” at 1.1% overall.
Districts are afforded an optional narrative summary in their Dashboard evaluations, and Choi said SMUSD took that opportunity to point out that the suspension rate was an example of a high percentage but a small number; in the 2016-17 school year, for example, there was 12 total suspensions all year for a school of more than 1,100 students, so a change in either direction represents a more dramatic percentage difference.
“We’ve made sure that we explained our suspension rate in our narrative summary,” he said.
At Huntington Middle School, the English learner progress saw a 3.5% increase to be rated “Very High” and its English language arts, and mathematics evaluations maintained at “Very High.” The school’s suspension rate fell by 0.4% and was still “Very Low.”
Carver Elementary School showed a significant increase in its English learner progress, jumping 14.6% into the “Very High” rating; its English language arts and mathematics scores also posted increased scores by this point and are rated as “Very High.” Its suspension rate is “Very Low” after falling by 0.3%.
English learner progress and English language arts both increased and were rated “Very High” for Valentine Elementary School, while mathematics and suspension rate both maintained for “Very High” and “Very Low” ratings, respectively.
“I would say it’s quite difficult to consistently improve from the status we’re always at,” Choi said. “To be able to still have a slight increase in terms of improvement is pretty remarkable.”
Choi said SMUSD has been getting more accustomed to these new evaluation systems since the state changed things up after following the former system for years. In the coming years, Dashboard will include chronic absenteeism and college/career readiness among students as part of the semi-annual evaluations.
“We’ve had many opportunities to take a look at the Dashboard and how it evaluates districts,” he said. “I think it paints a more complete picture of the district.”

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