Bill would create ‘scoring system’ for schools

Schools 3By Bob Eschliman


A group of Iowa House Democrats has sponsored a bill that would direct the Iowa Department of Education to develop an “attendance center performance scoring system.”

The system proposed under House File 428, authored by state Rep. Cindy Winckler (D-Davenport) and co-sponsored by six of her Democratic colleagues, would calculate “aggregate growth” as well as “aggregate proficiency” of students. When combined with other “academic indicators,” that would result in an overall school performance score for each attendance center and each school district.

IDOE would be required to publish those scores on its Internet site. It also would be required by the proposed legislation, by June 30 of this year, to provide “technical support and services to school districts for purposes of aligning the attendance center performance scoring system outcomes with the accreditation standards and process established under Code section 256.11.”

HF 428 would also direct IDOE to develop criteria and a process for school districts to use to establish specific performance goals, and to evaluate the performance of each attendance center. The criteria must include, but not be limited to:

  • student achievement growth,
  • parent involvement,
  • student attendance,
  • employee turnover, and
  • community activities and involvement.

“The department shall develop a student achievement growth indicator and criteria that acknowledge attendance centers whose annual rates of student achievement growth are higher than the statewide average annual rate of student achievement growth, and a closing gap score shall be calculated as another measure to determine subgroup performance and to rank and classify attendance centers,” the bill’s explanatory statement says. “Other academic indicators shall be defined as criterion-referenced variables and shall include but not be limited to graduation rates and college-readiness rates. Additional indicators of achievement and progress may include post-graduation data, suspension and expulsion rates, levels of student engagement, parent satisfaction, parent engagement, and staff working conditions.”

HF 428 would allow the overall school performance score to be used to determine the level of support and specialized assistance that must be provided to schools scoring at the lowest performance levels statewide. It may also be used to recognize and share the best practices of schools scoring at the highest performance levels statewide.

Under the bill, IDOE will begin releasing attendance center scores and ranking data to districts beginning Sept. 1, 2016, and will continue to do so by Sept. 1 each year thereafter. Those scores and ranking data will be made public no sooner than Oct. 1, 2016, and annually by Oct. 1 each year thereafter.

“[IDOE] is directed to provide, from July 1, 2015, through Aug. 31, 2016, professional development to school district instructional staff relating to Iowa’s differentiated accountability model,” HF 428’s explanatory statement says. “At a minimum, the professional development opportunities shall include definitions of the metrics included in the attendance center rankings resources and suggested best instructional practices for districts in the lower half of the rankings, and assistance with communication templates and strategies school districts may use to explain to the community in clear and concise terms for a diverse audience the rankings and their significance in identifying areas for improvement at attendance centers and in school districts.”

There have been no lobbyist declarations on HF 428 as of this writing.