The Value of Multiple Measures
Setting expectations for and evaluating school performance is at the heart of authorizing. To do it well, authorizers work with schools to set performance goals and expectations and gather information to assess progress towards those goals.
There are many ways to do this, just as there are many different kinds of authorizers and schools. Of course, authorizers use literacy and numeracy development as baseline measures of progress. Then, they might supplement with other measures: one authorizer and some schools in their portfolio might measure the percent of students attaining a CTE credential or industry certification upon graduation. Another authorizer and its schools may focus on social-emotional well-being by measuring students’ self-advocacy skills.
Today, authorizers don’t have to start from scratch as they figure out what to measure. They are guided by all that authorizers have learned and refined over decades, and more recently. As we emerge from the pandemic, NACSA recommends that authorizers prioritize disaggregated student growth and mission-related goals in their Academic Framework measures of school quality. (See NACSA’s Guide to Performance Frameworks for more.) While each indicator of student learning is important, authorizers can contribute to critical recovery efforts by focusing on how well schools are accelerating student learning and wellness, and preparing students for life after high school.
Today, there’s broad agreement that evaluating academic performance is not about either/or: it’s about both/and. Of course, authorizers are well-versed in using proficiency and growth data from statewide and other standardized assessments to evaluate performance, in addition to graduation rates, attendance rates, and performance on college-readiness assessments. All this data is important and useful.
AND, to comprehensively measure school quality, we need measures that tell us more. These measures can be school-specific or mission-specific and can take many forms. They can assess various aspects of students’ cognitive and social-emotional skill development. They can include measures of second-language learning, problem solving, communication, academic skills beyond reading and math, collaboration, leadership, and more. No one measure tells us the full story.
NACSA calls this “both/and” accountability system Multiple Measures. When we have a full picture of school quality through the use of rigorous and robust collection of measures, then schools, authorizers, and parents make better decisions.
See more examples of how authorizers and schools are doing this.