California School Dashboard – Students with Disabilities – 2018

California’s school dashboard for 2018 hides as much as it shows. Students with disabilities are present, but hidden (some would say “separate, but unequal). The following is the “Students with Disabilities” dashboard for California as a whole. It is taken directly from the main state summary (I’ve clicked on all the links and done a bit of math and analysis so you don’t have to).

First, we have to talk about how the California School Dashboard itself “works”…

California’s Crazy Gauges – triage, not performance

If you look at the California School Dashboard, there is a big focus on the new gauges that replace the old pie charts – both use an identical 5 color system range (blue, green, yellow, orange red).

Ignore them.

Many people think that this is similar to a grading system (Blue = A, Green = B, etc.).

NOPE.

It is a triage system for intervention by the state department of education.

  • Red means “intervention”.
  • Orange means “close to intervention”.
  • etc.

Except even that is deceiving.

Because California’s school system (our school system) is in bad shape (look at the numbers below).

Basically, the triage system for state intervention is so that the state department of education doesn’t have to intervene in too many schools….

… so they don’t have to admit how broken the system is.

… and that they certainly don’t have the resources to intervene where it is really necessary….

…. because they can’t intervene where it is really necessary.

Performance Problems

Academic performance. It is what school is all about. So, we’ve got performance data for our students… what does it mean?

My friends in education are quite critical of these tests – for me, the individual results don’t mean much.

But, they do matter in aggregate.

California does something a bit interesting, they put their English Language Arts and Mathematics performance tests for each grade (3 through 8 plus 11) onto a single scale (see article at Ed100 which is good on how the detailed assessments work, but off base on the 5 by 5 “triage” charts as briefly noted above. I think they didn’t see the problem with the system because they were looking at the “blue-green” side of the world instead of the “red-orange” mess).

Because, its California, it is weird. On-target performance for third graders in English Language Arts is 2432, fourth grade – 2473, fifth grade – 2502, sixth grade – 2531, seventh grade – 2552, and eight grade – 2567.

So, around 27 points per year.

For Math… third grade is 2436, fourth grade – 2485, fifth grade – 2528, sixth grade – 2552, seventh grade – 2567, and eight grade – 2586.

So, around 30 points per year.

Though they don’t use the system this way, you can use these numbers to kinda sorta judge where kids are at (in aggregate)…. if you are 27 points lower than the standard, you are one year behind in English Language Arts.

The other thing that these performance numbers show is the disconnect between grades/graduation and performance (and, for me the real purpose of the tests). This is perhaps the most critical failing of our state’s education system. If grades more closely (in aggregate again) tracked the results of the performance tests, we’d have parents screaming about our broken education system, but since little Timmy and Tamera get their “As” and “Bs”, the school must be teaching them what they need to learn to succeed in the real world (or at least English and Math)… Right?

One more problem, the overall data includes Students with Disabilities, so you can’t really see what the gap is between Students with Disabilities and Students without Disabilities… given the numbers, it is going to be BIGGER…

On to the California Students with Disabilities Dashboard – 2018…

Total Enrollment

Total Students: 6,220,413

Students with Disabilities: 703,977 (11.3%)

English Language Arts

Overall: 6 points below standard, Maintained 2.2 points, 3,171,687 students

Students with Disabilities: 95.5 points below standard, Maintained 2.1 points, 398,344 students

The Smarter Balanced Consortium has identified Standard Met as demonstrating the knowledge and skills necessary for students to be on track for college and career readiness at their grade level

Per our performance model, this puts the average Student with Disabilities 3.5 years behind for ELA.

NOTE: Students with disabilities are allowed accommodations for standardized tests, this is not reported on the California dashboard, but I’ll add it later. My sense is that schools in California UNDER use this accommodation and therefore may be understating the performance of the state’s students with disabilities.

California Alternative Assessment

A small number of students with cognitive disabilities ( 36,140 ) take an alternative assessment – 51.4% have “Level 1 – limited understanding”, 31.4% have “Level 2 – foundational understanding”, 17.2% have “Level 3 – Understanding”. There is no mapping provided between these assessments and the general assessment for all students which makes it pretty worthless (my opinion obviously).

Mathematics

Overall: 36.4 points below standard, Maintained 1.3 points, 3,166,312 students.

(for those keeping score, that means ALL students in California are on average a bit over one year behind expectations in Math)

Students with Disabilities: 125.3 points below standard, Maintained 0.8 points, 396,607 students.

Using our performance placement model, this puts Students with Disabilities 4.2 years behind… on average.

NOTE: Students with disabilities are allowed accommodations for standardized tests, this is not reported on the California dashboard, but I’ll add it later. My sense is that schools in California UNDER use this accommodation and therefore may be understating the performance of the state’s students with disabilities.

California Alternative Assessment

A small number of students with cognitive disabilities (36,002) take an alternative assessment – 64.5% have “Level 1 – limited understanding”, 27.6% have “Level 2 – foundational understanding”, 7.9% have “Level 3 – Understanding”. There is no mapping provided between these assessments and the general assessment for all students which makes it pretty worthless (my opinion obviously).

College/Career Readiness

Overall: 42.2% prepared, 1.1% maintained, 518,317 students

Students with Disabilities: 9.2% prepared, 1.9% maintained,
57,589 students

Chronic Absenteeism

Overall: 9% chronically absent, 0.3% maintained, 4,331,908 students

Students with Disabilities: 15.1% chronically absent, 0.4% maintained,
544,974 students

Grades K through 8 (not sure why they don’t track High School?).

Graduation Rate

Overall: 83.5% graduate, -0.7% maintained, 518,317 students

Students with Disabilities: 71.4% graduate, 0.9% maintained, 57,589 students

This is the number of students who graduate high school or at an alternative school.

NOTE: No direct information is provided on students with disabilities who get a “certificate of completion” or age out of the system (I think I can get that information elsewhere)

Suspension Rate

Overall: 3.5% suspended at least once (223,472 students), -0.1% maintained, 6,384,919 students

Students with Disabilities: 6.8% suspended at least once (54,229 students), -0.3% maintained, 797,487 students

This is one of those areas where the California School Dashboard is pretty bad. It fails to identify equity problems in suspensions (disproportionate suspension rates).

Students with disabilities are 24.3 percent of suspensions, but only 12.5% of the total student population.

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