- Washington set forth ambitious goals and selected a largely straightforward set of high-quality indicators that should help broaden the definition of what constitutes a good school, including Advanced Placement completion and a 9th-grade on-track indicator that will encourage schools to pay attention to student success in a variety of ways in high school.
- Washington’s multiple requirements for schools to demonstrate progress before exiting comprehensive or targeted support status is promising. The state’s pilot program that will require schools to establish a rigorous planning process should allow the state and districts to work more productively to improve student achievement.
- Washington also includes a number of elements that will support continuous improvement efforts, including audits of practices and a listening and learning tour to support the transition to the new accountability system.
- Washington’s school identification system raises some concerns. For each indicator, it sorts schools into ten deciles of performance, and then creates a summative score based on a school’s total score on all indicators. While the decile system will originally sort schools into ten equally sized groups, the state says it will “freeze” those cut points and allow schools to raise their scores ratings over time based on future improvement, which could be challenging for parents and educators to understand and react to.
- The state’s growth model relies on relative rankings, which compares the progress students make against their similarly performing peers and converts those scores into percentiles. While this approach is relatively simple to calculate and interpret, it does not ensure students cover the content they need to master to stay on track toward mastery at graduation.