Recognizing that alternative schools serve high risk students who are frequently highly mobile, credit deficient or out of school for years at a time, the California Department of Education established an Alternative Schools Taskforce to explore alternative ways of meeting the state’s accountability indicators. The one-year graduation rate is one of the first metrics to receive Taskforce support. Among the 24-member Taskforce were RAPSA participants Elisha Arrillaga, Maryann Dewan, Daisy Gonzales, Diana Grotjean, Phil Matero, Elsbeth Prigmore, Roger Rice, Ernie Silva, and Diana Walsh-Ruess.
The Taskforce was coordinated by the Gardiner Foundation’s Jorge Ruiz de Velasco of Stanford University. The Department of Education provided support including detailed modeling of one-year cohort options. Several of the Department’s staff outlined California’s approach at the 2017 Alternative Accountability Policy Forum including Cindy Kazanis and Jenny Singh.
The one-year graduation rate has been a frequent topic of conversation at RAPSA’s Alternative Accountability Policy Forum scoring among the top 3 issues in AAPF polling. The one-year graduation rate was also among the 10 recommended policy needs in the Summaries of Proceedings prepared by WestEd and PACE. In testimony supporting the action, Ernie Silva said, “the Department has brought you an opportunity to be on the leading edge of policy development, but not the bleeding edge. Other agencies that have successfully implemented a one-year rate including Portland Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools.” In addition, to alternative schools, school districts and county offices of education, the initiative was supported by education equity advocates including Public Counsel and EdTrust West.
In recent years, representatives of Portland Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools have participated in the Policy Forum and shared their approaches. Rather than a cohort of every student who graduates four years after entering ninth grade, the one-year rate accounts for all students who graduate by using a cohort of all students expected to graduate within a year based on credits earned. This approach accounts for students who are credit deficient or who have dropped out for a period of time and would otherwise not be credited in the school or districts four-year graduation rate. Information about California’s one-year rate can be found at:
The California Department of Education presented a RAPSA webinar on metrics for alternative schools on April 27th. A recording of that webinar is at: view recording.
RAPSA Board President, Linda Dawson, expressed her satisfaction of the Board’s action, “I am absolutely delighted that the California State Board of Education has acted on this important alternative accountability measure. It shows the emerging strength of RAPSA’s network to see so many of our members engaged in the state’s Taskforce. I look forward to hearing more about the success of those of you in other states in the coming months. See you at the Policy Forum in November!”