Understanding School Performance Profiles
Partners Post, October 2013
In the August issue of Partners Post, we included information about Pennsylvania receiving a waiver on federal No Child Left Behind requirements.
On the heels of the state's waiver, which exempts schools from federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks, the Pennsylvania Department of Education recently launched a new School Performance Profile website as a part of its effort to create a new "public school report card."
The website includes ratings and information for individual school buildings, including charter schools, organized by county and school district.
Making information publicly available about school performance supports good discussions about public education. However, when reviewing the profiles, Partners should remember that the profiles do not tell the whole story of our schools’ commitment to the success of every child. Public schools get many positive results that cannot be measured by standardized tests, including important aspects of child and youth development and student learning and achievement.
Problems with the new profiles
While the move away from AYP scores is a positive change, educators and many education groups have concerns about the profiles.
- Over-reliance on standardized tests: 90 percent of the new school performance profiles is based on standardized test scores, which only provide a once-a-year snapshot of student achievement in a few content areas. Decades of research consistently confirms that student test scores are related to factors that are often outside the control of the school, such as the socioeconomics of the student population, student health issues, and how frequently students move.
- School funding cuts: since public schools lost nearly $1 billion in state budget funding in 2011 and have continued to struggle with tight budgets ever since, class sizes have increased and tutoring programs and early childhood education have been reduced or eliminated along with countless other programs that help students succeed.
Partner to help our schools
Right now, schools across Pennsylvania are facing an ongoing school funding crisis, caused by the nearly $1 billion schools lost in 2011-12 and the budgets that have been enacted since then.
Most Pennsylvanians oppose recent school funding cuts, and Partners for Public Education can do something about this crisis.
Email your state legislators today, urging them to restore funding to public schools in the coming year. Tell them Pennsylvania's children deserve better.
If we work together, we can make sure students have access to the programs they need to succeed.