Hart District may receive additional support following Dashboard results

FILE PHOTO: Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Editor’s Note: This is the final story in a series looking at how Santa Clarita Valley school districts performed on the fall 2017 release of the California School Dashboard.

The William S. Hart Union High School District may receive additional support from the county and the state following the performance of one of its student subgroups on its fall 2017 California School Dashboard.

Released last Thursday, the Dashboard gives districts and schools an “online report card” of their performance while shining a light on inequities in student performance.

Using both state and local indicators, the Dashboard uses a color-coded system of graphics to give educational agencies a score ranging from blue—the best—to green, yellow, orange and red—the worst.

These scores are based on overall performance as well as change over time to encourage continual improvement among schools.

“The best aspect of the Dashboard is it gives us indicators of focus. While we are pleased with the overall results, the Dashboard provides a flashlight on areas we need to improve,” said Dave Caldwell, public relations officer for the Hart District.  “Each of our schools, and the district as a whole, once areas of improvement are identified, immediately put plans in place to address those concerns.”

The William S. Hart Union High School District fall 2017 Dashboard.

Statewide System of Support

This fall, the district was one of 228 throughout the state that qualified for California’s new Statewide System of Support due to the low performance of students with disabilities in two of the Dashboard’s six state priorities: graduation rates and math test scores.

According to the California Department of Education (CDE), district and schools become eligible for this targeted assistance—which includes workshops, best practice sharing among educators, county-level support and state intervention—when they have a student subgroup performing in red, the lowest score, on at least two indicators.

One in four school districts throughout the state were determined to be eligible for this support.

“This is a critical moment in our education reform efforts because we are now turning data into direct action by identifying districts that face challenges in certain areas and providing them with help rather than sanctions,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.

According to the Hart District, the metrics for measuring this student subgroup may not accurately evaluate students’ performance in various indicators.

For example, in the Hart District students with disabilities are able to attend school for eight years, until they are 22 years old, instead of the traditional four years.

“Some of our students with disabilities are on track to graduate, but for others that is simply not realistic. They are on track for a Certificate of Completion,” Caldwell said.  “We are going to contact the CDE to see if that metric can be adjusted.”

In the Dashboard’s definition of this indicator, the graduation rate is determined by “measuring the four-year cohort high school graduation rate for a given school year.”

State Indicators

The Hart District is by far the largest in the Santa Clarita Valley with an enrollment of 22,437 students during the 2017-18 school year.

Of these students, 23.1 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged, 9 percent are English Learners and 0.3 percent are foster youth.

Overall, the district had an overall performance in the green, the second highest level and was given high marks for five state priorities.

The district performed in the green for suspension rates, English Language Arts test scores and math test scores, and in the blue—the highest level—for English Learner progress and graduation rates.

In addition, the district experienced an overall increase in its English Learner progress toward English proficiency with 90.3 percent making progress toward proficiency in 2017, compared to 89.5 percent in 2016.

The fall Dashboard also included new indicator for the district, College and Career Readiness, which it performed well on.

“The majority of our graduates are leaving college and career ready by state standards,” Caldwell said.

In this indicator, 61.2 percent of students were labeled prepared, 19.8 percent were approaching prepared and 19 percent were unprepared.

“The district made a commitment four years ago when we hired Dr. Mariane Doyle and gave her the resources to develop College and Career Readiness, and we’re seeing the benefit of that now,” Caldwell said.

The results of this indicator are a success compared to the Antelope Valley Union High School District where only 31.1 percent of students are prepared and 46.2 percent were unprepared, and the Glendale Unified School District where 57.8 percent of students are prepared and 24.5 percent are unprepared.

But, the Hart district said it still has room for growth and improvement.

“However, the 61.2 percent shows us that we have more work to do,” Caldwell said.  “We are on board knowing that every students needs a career focus and we recognize the fact that that may not be college, that it may be in a different direction. So we are doing everything we can to help our students identify that career focus and help them on their way.”

Local Indicators

The Hart District met all four local indicator measures that were added to the Dashboard this fall.

In its Parent Engagement local indicator, the district noted that there are a number of opportunities for parents to attend site and district meetings, and that interpretation and translation services are available to parents during those times.

The district also noted, in its Local Climate Survey indicator, that student and parents seemed pleased with the academic environment of the Hart District.

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