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Michigan unveils new data-driven parent dashboard

As states look for way to increase transparency, Michigan rolls out the first phase of a custom-developed Parent Dashboard.

Patience Wait
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Patience Wait Contributing Writer

Patience Wait is a freelance writer and former journalist, covering the information technology market for industry-leading trade sites. She has won...

A sample of the data displayed on Michigan's Parent Dashboard.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has released Phase 1 of its Parent Dashboard, an online presentation of the performance of all K-12 schools in the state.

“Right now, parents have the ability to compare [two] demographically similar or geographically adjacent schools,” Martin Ackley, director of public and governmental affairs at MDE, told EdScoop. In a future phase, parents will be able to compare multiple schools to one another, he said.

The dashboard was a joint project carried out by the MDE and the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), according to Alisande Shrewsbury, special assistant to the state superintendent of schools, who was actively involved in the development. The dashboard was custom-developed, rather than based on an off-the-shelf application, she said.

The indicators offered by the dashboard include:

  • State assessment performance
  • Graduation rate
  • English learner progress
  • Student-to-staff ratio
  • Transfer rates
  • Graduation rates
  • Dropout rates
  • Student postsecondary enrollment, persistence and completion

“The dashboard is a key part of the [Every Student Succeeds Act] plan,” said Joyce Heideman, the CCRI/ESSA team lead for the Michigan Parent Teacher Association. “It serves the purpose of the State Report Card that is required under ESSA … Michigan uses post-secondary enrollment and attendance as their measures of school quality.”

The criteria included in the dashboard were dictated by ESSA, Heideman said, but “we did request that the dashboard be easy to use and understand by all parents. Based on our initial review, it seems to meet those requirements.”

Michigan is not the first state to introduce a parent dashboard for schools’ performance. California released its version in 2017, though the two cannot really be compared, said Julie Woods, senior policy analyst with the Education Commission of the States (ECS). She said it’s difficult to say how many states have dashboard reporting systems because there is a distinction “between measuring and reporting on school performance.” The two concepts often get conflated in discussing dashboards, she said.

Last month, ECS released its comparison of all 50 states’ school accountability systems. “Where a state plans to use a school rating method that is not more traditional, such as A-F or 1-5 stars, we call it a ‘dashboard,’” Woods said in an email. “California is the only state we know of currently using [a dashboard to measure school performance,] and it’s very new so we can’t speak to its effectiveness … Michigan considered using the dashboard method for its school performance measuring, but instead chose to use an index – a score between 1 and 100 – and [is using] a dashboard to present data.”

The Michigan Board of Education released its policy on developing the parent dashboard in June 2017. It identifies all the metrics planned for all three phases of the dashboard, along with a timeline for release.

“The next phase will allow school districts to add ‘points of pride’ so that parents can see the good things” their schools are doing, Ackley said.

Reach the reporter at pwaitster@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter @WaitPatience and @edscoop_news.

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Education IT News, Department of Education, Edtech, Digital Equity, K-12, Policy, Privacy & Security, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan , data, Data dashboard, California

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