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Idaho Moves Toward 'Dashboard' Accountability, Without School Rankings

Idaho is moving toward a more nuanced approach to holding its schools accountable, under a new accountability system given preliminary approval by its state board of education. And, according to the board minutes, the state won't rank its schools, despite proposed U.S. Department of Education regulations that would require states to do so. 

The state board and the committee members designing the new accountability model said during the board meeting that the new model "is in compliance with the [Every Student Succeeds Act] and its intent and hopes that the U.S. Department of Education will adjust the regulations before they are finalized," according to the meeting minutes.

State education officials don't want to take "lots of bits and pieces" from different indicators to come up with a one-time score, state board member Debbie Critchfield told Magic Valley, a Twin Valley news publication. "We didn't believe it was an accurate reflection of what's happening in our schools." 

The board's vote last week allows for the accountability committee to continue refining the new system. After getting feedback from commmunity members, the board will make final tweeks before sending it to the state legislature for approval in the spring.The state plans to use the new accountability system under ESSA.  

Kentucky and California officials have complained that coming up with a summative score oversimplifies measures of school quality and forces states to weigh the value of some measures against others.  

The Education Department closed the 60-day comment period on its proposed regulations earlier this month and is expected to come out with its final regulations later this year.  

Idaho's new system would measure several data points including student test scores, teacher quality, student engagement and to display them in a "dashboard" style, a popular accountability system several states are considering using under ESSA.  While prior accountability systems measured and displayed to parents and administrators just student test scores and high school graduation rates, dashboard accountability systems measure and display several indicators that state officials think defines school succees.  

The state, like several others, is on a fast-track to get its new accountability and teacher evaluation systems up and running after problems implementing their prior systems approved under Race to the Top waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, ESSA's predecessor.

Idaho's state board of education suspended its its controversial Five Star accoutability system in 2014 because the state couldn't gather enough information from its test score data to determine student growth.  

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