A technical problem, a just solution: School quality measurement as a tool for social justice and equity

Presentation Date: 

Saturday, November 10, 2018


Association for Moral Education (AME), Barcelona, Spain

Presentation Slides: 

Over the last two decades, local education authorities in the United States have created systems for measuring school performance and student learning. Most of these systems rely heavily on student standardized test scores. Given that results from these tests consitently reveal more about student demographics than the schools they attend (Sirin, 2015), parents, policymakers, and others making decisions based on these data are using misleading and incomplete information (Schneider et al., 2018). The advancement of educational equity and justice, then, may rest in part upon what seems like a highly technical problem: how to develop a more comprehensive and holistic measure of school quality. In this presentation, we consider the history of school quality measurement – the urgency of the problem, its initial promise, as well as its considerable shortcomings – and then discuss a promising alternative to the status quo: the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment (MCIEA). Jointly governed by district superintendents and teachers unions, MCIEA uses an empirically-grounded consensus framework for measuring multiple dimensions of school quality through teacher surveys, student surveys, administrative data, and teacher-designed performance assessment. Drawing on pilot data from MCIEA's first two years, we suggest that a more holistic approach to measuring school quality and student learning may be a viable and more equitable alternative to the status quo.