New Education Dashboard Brings Greater Transparency to Data

At an education stakeholders’ meeting today, Secretary Duncan announced the launch of an online tool designed to help educators, parents, students, and policy makers “have a much more transparent conversation” about what is working—and what is not working—in American education today.

Called the Education Dashboard, the site offers all 50 states’ pre-kindergarten-12th grade data around 16 key indicators that are tied to the nation’s educational goals, as well as some measures of states’ postsecondary systems. Specifically, the indicators focus on measuring progress toward realizing the President’s vision that by 2020, the United States will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Deputy Secretary Tony Miller explained at today’s launch that the key indicators in the Dashboard were selected because they are relevant, reliable, and measurable across all 50 states. While some of the data have been seen before, much of the information is new, including information about which state systems allow student achievement data to be incorporated into evaluations for teachers and disparities in funding between high- and low-poverty schools.

According to Miller, the data indicate that “we are a far cry from where we need to be” and show a “wide variation in what we see in both performance and trends” between states. Secretary Duncan described the Education Dashboard as a starting point, a tool to “increase the visibility and increase the debate” about best practices and how to results for students.

The Dashboard can be found at http://dashboard.ed.gov/. The Department welcomes feedback on the new site, which users can submit via links throughout the Dashboard.

Laurie Calvert
Laurie Calvert is a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow on loan from her position teaching at Enka High School in Buncombe County, N.C.

1 Comment

  1. I would like to comment about the measurement of data on students’ achievements in some of our schools. I believe the first priority on any changes in our schools should be to eliminate any data from student grades and evaluations, which do not reflect their ability or knowledge of a basic required subject of learning. I have grandchilren attending middle schools, high schools, and grade schools. I have noticed that in all of these levels of education, in our area, the teachers grade students on assignments which do not reflect their ability in the subject for which the grade is used. For instance, the students are required to write down all assignments for all subjects in all classes, in an agenda notebook. If they fail to do so, or if they misplace the notebook on grading day, or if it is “stolen” by another student who didn’t complete their own work, or for any other reason it is not available to “grade”, they are given a grade of “F” for the week. That grade carries as much weight as if they took a test on the given subject during which the teacher checks the notebook. That is usually their homeroom class. Students are also given a “busy work” question called “prime time” to complete during the time a teacher is doing her morning attendance and other duties. If a student does not finish or fails to turn in this one paper, they are given an “F” in the subject. If a teacher sends home a copy of the report card, a notice of an activity, or other informational papers, and the student fails to return it, signed, on time to the teacher, they are given an “F”. I believe these areas should be important, of course, but they have no real relevance to the actual ability or knowledge in the subject area they are studying. I believe when I was in school there was a separate grade for such things, such as “deportment”, for behaviorial problems. I would also like to have officials look at the policy of schools which requires teachers to give an “F” to a student who turns in a paper even one day late. It does not matter to the school what the reason was, except for illness. In todays world, where a child’s time is often divided between two parents, and they also have other important activities to complete, such as recitals, sports or church activities, they tend to postpone homework until the end of the day and it all does not get done on time. I believe that students should be able to get at least some positive credit for at least completing the assignment. I don’t see any reason to reduce the grade at all, in fact, as it is “still” an indication of the child’s ability and knowledge. At the most, there should be only a small percentage of a reduction from what the actual grade would have been. In past times, that was the case. A teacher today has the option of doing either a small reduction, or give an F, or fifty percent credit, which is in effect still an F grade. The ability of some teachers to have that option, further skews the grades of students. A student who does NO HOMEWORK gets the same grade as one who does all his homework at an “A” level, but sometimes does not get it turned in on time. In todays busy world, I would prefer to have the children be given a “span” of time, in which to turn in homework. Some days have more work assigned than could possibly be done, and other days have none. That “span” of a few days, would allow parents to monitor and oversee the homework done by the student. I would also like to see all teachers be REQUIRED to give parents a list of all assignments which are going to be required of the children during a grading period, so that the parents can make certain that all work is completed and completed on time. That would allow parents to divide the time of the student to get everything done. That would even allow parents to give outside experiences to the child which might help their understanding of a subject, such as a movie, the purchase of a book on a given subject area, or a home experiment of something in science. Schools make a big issue of parents getting involved in the education of the children, but they won’t allow the things which would be most beneficial. In a Parent Link from the schools, online, we are given a report of daily grades at the end of the week, or later. We are notified of a “missing assignment” only after the “F” is given, and there is no remedy except to see that it is turned in, “late”, and the student STILL receives a grade of “F”, or 50%, if the student did all the work correctly. In the last ten days prior to the end of a grading period, even that is not allowed. To me, that is not an accurate way to determine a childs knowledge or abiility, and may well be the difference in some schools being able to say the children are passing the standards they are given. It is too easy for teachers and schools to “SKEW” the grades of all its students. For instance, a child who does all the “busy work” assignments, brings back all the papers on time, which the teacher wants signed by parents, and who writes in their assignment Agenda notebook every day, will get a lot of “A” grades to factor into their very poor “subject” grades. A student who makes all “A” subject grades but gets a lot of “F” grades factored in for failing to do things which they assumed were not as important as their subject work, and failed to turn them in on time, will end up getting the SAME grades, on their report cards, in the same subject. The poor student will PASS a subject which he does not KNOW, and another student will FAIL a subject in which they do excellent work. How can you make an accurate assessment of the edcational accomplshments of a school which does these things?

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