Commentary on Taxpayer Supported School Accountability

Aaron Churchill:

This post examines the academic data of schools assigned an overall grade of F under the state’s accountability system. The numbers are small: Just 8 percent, or 275 schools (204 district and 71 charter) received such a rating in 2018–19.[1] But their results suggest a continuing need for a red flag—an alarm bell—that warns parents, communities, and governing authorities that students in these schools are far behind, with little chance of catching up. Let’s dig in.

Student proficiency

First, we look at proficiency rates, or the percentage of students reaching “proficient” or higher on state exams. Figure 1 displays the number of F-rated schools within ten equal intervals ranging from 0 to 100 percent proficiency. The bar at the far left of the chart, for instance, shows that twenty-two F-rated schools had proficiency rates between 0 and 10 percent last year. Overall, we see that a large majority of these schools post very low proficiency rates: 173 of 234 schools have proficiency rates below 30 percent. The average proficiency rate of F-rated schools is just 25 percent, less than half the statewide average and far behind the proficiency rates of A-rated schools. A small number of outliers register rates closer to the statewide average, but on the whole, the vast majority of students attending F-rated schools fall short of state academic standards in core subjects such as English, math, and science.