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Are School Ratings in ESSA Plans Clear for Parents? Check Out One Analysis

By Alyson Klein — November 14, 2017 1 min read
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Every state has turned in a plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. So how do those plans stack up against each other and against No Child Left Behind, the previous version of the law? The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank headed up by Michael Petrili, a former Bush administration aide, is out with a look Tuesday.

Fordham judged the states on whether or not they had assigned annual ratings to schools that parents could understand, whether they encouraged schools to focus on all students or just the lowest performers, and whether the ratings were fair.

And, overall, the picture is pretty positive, at least as Fordham sees it.

Fordham gave a “grade” to 34 states for having clear, understandable school ratings.

Fordham gave 23 states “strong” marks for focusing beyond just the so-called “bubble kids” (those who were close to getting to proficiency and whose performance would most help a school’s overall rating.) Another 14 states got “medium” marks.

It’s less clear that state systems are “fair,” in the think tank’s eyes, to high-poverty schools. Just 18 states were “strong” in this area. But another 24 were “medium,” which Fordham sees as an improvement over NCLB.

Overall 20 of 51 systems were either “good” or “great” in Fordham’s eyes, meaning they earned at least two “strong” grades and one medium. And seven states—Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Washington—got strong ratings in every area.