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Opportunity Dashboard Indicators in ESSA

ESSA requires state accountability systems to include at least one “Opportunity Dashboard” indicator of school quality or student success.
Published: 07/2020

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) lists several indicators that state accountability systems must include: math and reading assessment, English language proficiency, and more. But the law also says that the accountability systems must include at least one “Opportunity Dashboard” indicator of school quality or student success – and you can influence which one. 

Below we provide background on the law, example indicators, and suggested next steps to help educators and allies ensure opportunity for all students.

ESSA Key Provisions

Under ESSA, state-designed accountability systems must include the following indicators:

  • Math, reading assessments
  • Graduation rates
  • Another statewide indicator for middle and elementary schools
  • English language proficiency
  • At least one indicator of school quality and student support (the “Opportunity Dashboard” Indicator), such as:
    • Student engagement;
    • Educator engagement;
    • Student access to and completion of advanced coursework;
    • Post-secondary readiness;
    • School climate and safety; and
    • Any other state-chosen indicator that allows for meaningful differentiation of school performance, and is valid, reliable, comparable, and statewide

Meaningful Differentiation: Every year, the state must meaningfully differentiate all public schools in the state based on ALL of the indicators it includes in its accountability system, for all students and for each subgroup of students. 

States have a great deal of discretion over these indicators. States also have the flexibility to determine the weights assigned to each indicator for the purposes of differentiation, so long as Indicators 1-4 weigh more in the aggregate than Indicator(s) 5. 

States must also differentiate any school in which any subgroup of students is consistently under-performing, as determined by the state, based on all the indicators.

Reporting: States must collect and report on the indicators in its accountability system, disaggregated by student subgroup, and should quickly remedy any gaps in the resources, supports, and programs. The subgroups of students are: 1) economically disadvantaged students; 2) students from major racial and ethnic groups; 3) children with disabilities; and 4) English Learners.

Feasibility: All of the examples of indicators of school quality and student success can be measured and disaggregated by these four student subgroups.

Opportunity Dashboard Indicators

These indicators give educators, parents, community leaders, and policymakers the chance to make sure their schools are fairly assessed. Here are examples from our Opportunity Dashboard to help you find the right fit for your school.

Student Success

  • Student attendance (elementary and middle school)
  • Graduation rate (high schools)
  • School climate index (such as bullying intervention and prevention, positive behavioral supports, parent and student surveys, and restorative justice practices)
  • School discipline policies and the disparate impact on students of color, students with disabilities, and students that identify as LGBT
  • Appropriate assessment system 
  • Students’ success in advanced coursework (AP/IB, honors, dual enrollment, college gateway math, science classes)
  • Students prepared for college or career technical education certification programs without need for remediation or learning support courses

Quality Educators

  • Students’ access to fully qualified teachers, including Board-certified teachers
  • Students' access to qualified paraeducators
  • Students’ access to optimal ratios of specialized instructional support personnel (school counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists)
  • Students’ access to fully qualified school librarians/media specialists
  • Quality professional development for all educators, including education support professionals
  • Fully funded mentoring and induction support for educators
  • Opportunities for job-embedded collaboration
  • Educators empowered to make site-based decisions
  • Percentage of teachers who are teaching outside of their field
  • Percentage of teachers who leave the profession within their first three years

Quality Schools

  • Students' access to modern materials, facilities, technology, books, and libraries
  • Students' access to class sizes that allow for one-on-one attention
  • Students’ access to health and wellness programs, including social and emotional well-being
  • Students’ access to high-quality early education programs
  • Students’ access to full-day, five-day- a-week kindergarten
  • Family and community engagement
  • Students’ access to and success in advanced coursework (AP/IB, honors, dual enrollment)
  • Students’ access to fine arts, foreign language, daily physical education, library/media studies, and career technical education

Next Steps

ESSA requires that performance goals be based on a thorough needs assessment. To make it easier, we created the Opportunity Audit, a downloadable assessment and guide with step-by-step instructions for:

  • Building an Audit Team
  • Engaging the community
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement
  • Setting specific, achievable goals

Complete this form to receive the audit.

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