WCSD Begins "Star Rating System"
This year, Washoe County School District unveiled its new system for assessing and rating its schools.
The district calls the new performance framework the Star Rating System, and it works just like it sounds. Schools with the best performance get five stars, down to the lowest performing schools at one star. It replaces the old Adequate Yearly Progress system, or AYP.
District officials said the Star Rating System gives a much broader perspective on how the schools are doing.
"The whole point of this is to kind of sort our schools along a spectrum," WCSD Director of Research Evaluation Ben Hayes said, "and see where we need more support."
That sorting is based largely on the Criterion Reference Tests, or CRTs, which students take every spring.
With the old AYP system schools were rated based on proficiency-- basically whether students passed their CRTs or not. The new Star Rating System uses proficiency, but it also measures student growth to determine a school's grade.
"It's a balance between proficiency and growth with reading, math, and science," Hayes said.
Under the new system, here is how the 89 Washoe County schools that received ratings break down:
-Five Stars: 14 schools
-Four Stars: 24 schools
-Three Stars: 36 schools
-Two Stars: 14 schools
-One Star: 1 school (Roger Corbett Elementary School)
Schools are rated on proficiency and growth in key subjects, as well as other factors like achievement gaps and parent involvement.
And although some people have likened the system to restaurant or hotel reviews, Hayes said the star rating is not meant as a judgement.
"It's not a scarlet letter. It's a support mechanism," Hayes said.
But after 10 years of AYP, some schools were unprepared to be assessed differently. The old system didn't account for science, so many schools didn't have as strong of an emphasis on the subject, meaning this time around their score dropped.
Many of those will be put into what the district is calling an "acceleration zone," a classification that will get them more financial support, but also more monitoring.
"They are going to get more support," Hayes said. "So a lot of the innovation you see coming out of the district in the next few years will probably come from some of those two-star schools."
The school district plans to release each year's star ratings in September. To see the current ratings, click here for all the results.