State unveils ‘parent dashboard’ for school data

By: Mary Beth Almond, Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published February 13, 2018

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The Michigan Department of Education recently launched a new online tool that puts performance data from every public school in the state at people’s fingertips. 

The Parent Dashboard for School Transparency, available at MISchool Data.org/ParentDashboard, provides nearly 20 pieces of data for those who want to check out the performance of their child’s school.

“It’s an easy way for families and others to compare a school’s performance at the building level with the average performances of similar schools around the state,” MDE spokesperson Bill DiSessa said. 

The tool displays a rolling three years’ worth of building-level data, where available, from each K-12 public school in Michigan — everything from standardized test scores and graduation and attendance rates, to expulsion numbers and data about student-staff ratios.

The dashboard, according to MDE officials, was created with significant parent feedback on its planning, content and design.

“Parents asked, and we listened,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said in a statement. “I’m very pleased to make the Parent Dashboard available to parents and other Michigan education stakeholders who want a more complete picture of how their local schools are serving children.”

“My concern is that there’s no context,” said Troy School District Superintendent Richard Machesky. “There’s a lot of information and no detail. It leads people to asking more.” 

Machesky noted that the information is also available on the MDE website on the MI-School portal. “From a positive standpoint, it probably makes it easier to access the information.” 

Machesky said he’s heard no feedback from Troy School District parents on the new dashboard. He said the best people to ask about how a child is doing in school are the child’s teacher or a school administrator. “You’ll be able to get more detailed information about your student,” he said. 

Mixed feedback is not unusual for something new, DiSessa said, adding that the site will continue to be updated as new school data becomes available.

“We can certainly improve and update the site as we go,” he said. “This is just phase one. We have a couple of other phases that will be rolling out and will include other new measurements and data in the future.”

Proposed categories include early learning access, access to technology, services to students with disabilities and English language learners, and extracurricular activities.

The Parent Dashboard for School Transparency — a combined effort of the MDE and the Center for Educational Performance and Information — is part of a set of transparency tools that include a state report card, required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act; a school budget and salary/compensation report required by state law; and school, district and statewide data and reports at MISchoolData.org.

DiSessa said the Parent Dashboard is also an integral component of the state’s strategic plan to make Michigan a top 10 education state in 10 years. 

“That is our department’s overarching goal right now … and there are a lot of pieces to it, but certainly the Parent Dashboard and bringing more transparency to this data is part of that plan,” DiSessa said. 

For more information or to view the Parent Dashboard, visit MISchoolData.org/ParentDashboard.