The Michigan Department of Education’s Parent Dashboard for School Transparency is a launching point for parents looking for school information, Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said.

The Michigan Department of Education’s Parent Dashboard for School Transparency is a launching point for parents looking for school information, Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts said.

File photo by Joshua Gordon


State’s new parent tool allows families to check out school performances

By: Joshua Gordon, Mary Beth Almond | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 20, 2018

MACOMB TOWNSHIP/CLINTON 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 MISchoolData.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.”

Administrators within Chippewa Valley Schools are still going over the details of the tool, but Superintendent Ron Roberts said it is a good step to providing information to parents, even if the district can’t capitalize on it as much.

“I think it is important to provide information to parents, and the state is trying hard to be transparent with what public schools offer,” Roberts said. “I don’t see the dashboard as something that would really impact what we do. It is a snapshot of the schools and not data we would use to make determinations and judgements on what we want to do to improve.”

In its current iteration, Roberts said the Parent Dashboard should just be a first step for parents if they are looking into potential school districts for their children.

For example, Roberts said a family may look at an elementary school for their child, but they should also look at the middle schools and high schools in the district to make sure they offer what the parents think is best for their child. Parents should also do further research, Roberts said, such as getting in contact with the district.

“I see this as one piece of the puzzle where, as a parent, you can use the dashboard as a launching point on what you want to learn about the schools,” he said. “I think parents want their child to become part of a school system and not move them in middle school, so if I were to use it, I would go much deeper into what schools have to offer and if they have what you think your child needs.”

The Parent Dashboard also allows people to compare school data with state averages and peer schools. DiSessa said peer schools are based on four school demographic characteristics, including number of students enrolled, the student-teacher ratio, the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch, and the amount of money the school spends per student.

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.