Vermont’s use of an equity index as an additional measure will shine a spotlight on within-school gaps between groups of students.
However, the proposed classification system is complicated, and, by focusing exclusively on school-level gaps, it might identify schools with higher overall performance.
In addition, ESSA requires states to identify for targeted support schools with any low-performing subgroups performing at the level of the bottom 5 percent of schools overall, but Vermont has not articulated how it would satisfy this requirement.
Vermont could strengthen its plan by looking at the schools with the lowest-performing historically marginalized groups in the state, or if it compared a given school’s historically marginalized group with the statewide average for historically advantaged students. Vermont could also consider incorporating its equity index into schools’ overall ratings, or incorporating subgroup performance more directly into the overall rating.