On December 15, the California Department of Education released the 2022 California School Dashboard, according to a Berkeley Unified School District press release. The dashboard showcased the performance levels of suspension rates, English Learner progress, graduation rates, and levels of academic performance such as math and English.
As reported by the press release, the 2022 dashboard is “status-only,” which means that the dashboard does not compare data from different years to display trends.
The 2021-2022 dashboard is the first to be released since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will present a baseline for future years.
Looking to the future, the data gathered from the 2021-2022 school year is one tool that the district will use to understand the impact on conditions of learning, as well as progress on academics, attendance, and other performance measures.
“The student achievement dashboard communicates data to the public that our district has reported, such as graduation rates and suspension data,” Berkeley High School Principal Juan Raygoza said. “I’m glad that the dashboard exists because it shows transparency, and we have work to do, and that there’s a lot of things that we should be proud of.”
Raygoza noted that the dashboard is not finished, and currently, much data showing the progress BHS has made is not available.
BHS Vice Principal Kiernan Rok described several findings of the collected data. “This data highlights the strengths of BHS, such as the fact that the highest graduation rates by race and ethnicity is for students who identify as two or more races, and also areas where improvement is needed,” Rok said.
Areas where improvement is needed, according to Rok, include English, math, and progress for English Learners (EL).
“The English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) is also a state-mandated English Proficiency Assessment that tests four domains of language: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Students receive an overall score based on their results in each domain,” said Anna Maine, Multilingual Program (MLP) co-lead and EL teacher/coordinator. “It would be difficult to draw any useful conclusions about students’ progress towards English proficiency without looking at the different populations of English Learners and different domains of the ELPAC.”
Rok also said that BHS has several racial inequalities, explaining how the overall success rates for students at BHS follow a predictable pattern, with white and Asian students generally performing better than Latinx and Black students.
Raygoza echoed this statement, saying that BHS isn’t adequately serving Black and Brown students in English and Math. He described how the administration and staff want to increase attendance for all students, especially students of color.
They also want to ensure that more students are University of California eligible, recruit more students for Career Technical Education programs, and continue to support specific groups of students in English and math.
“While I do not believe EL progress can be measured solely by ELPAC scores, I do believe there is much to be done to improve academic outcomes for all English Learners,” Maine said. “All services — including mental health and academic support — for all English Learners must be expanded and supported by the district.”
However, Maine also described the limitations of the dashboard’s data on ELPAC. “I don’t think (the dashboard) represents BHS students’ abilities. …The data also does not differentiate between EL Newcomers and Long Term English Learners and EL students with Individualized Education Programs. These three groups are quite different, and they are served by different programs at BHS. Their experiences with the ELPAC test vary widely.”
The BHS School Site Council has created a sub-committee dedicated to improving student achievement. According to chairperson Debbie Taylor, the council’s goal is to understand what data other high schools (and their districts) collect and analyze.
The School Site Council hopes to request and review Berkeley Research, Evaluation, and Assessment’s analysis of student achievement data, course enrollment, and demographic data to improve student outcomes.
According to Rok, the school can give better support to students and increase graduation rates in numerous different ways.
“We can focus on making our classrooms safe and welcoming spaces for all students with rigorous and engaging curriculum and learning experiences. We can continue to invest in our teachers by providing support and quality professional development. And we can continue to provide a high level of wrap-around services such as tutoring, academic support, and mental health counseling to make sure every student has the support they need to achieve success,” Rok said.
Raygoza agreed with this sentiment. He added that Berkeley High School needs to not only record graduation rates, but in addition track students throughout their earlier years of high school to make a greater difference.
“We need early intervention,” Raygoza said. “Graduation happens after four years, but we need to track students early on and make sure students are passing all of their classes and continue to have opportunities for students to make up credit. (The school needs to) engage and empower students to feel successful and be successful.”