State launches online school data app for parents
Lansing — Parents will now be able to look at an array of school data in an online “parent dashboard” the Michigan Department of Education launched Tuesday.
The website centralizes data on everything from standardized test scores to attrition and expulsion numbers and data about student-staff ratios, among a host of other information at parents’ fingertips.
“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.”
The dashboard has been launched for every K-12 school in Michigan and can be viewed online. It comes after passage of the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which encourages schools across the nation to come up with new ways to help students prepare for college or careers, according to the MDE.
The dashboard includes graduation and attendance rates, and more data will become a part of the online application, including information on arts programs and student services.
State Board of Education member Lupe Ramos-Montigny said during a meeting Tuesday she is concerned about parents being able to access and understand that data.
“I truly am amazed at the product that you were able to develop,” Ramos-Montigny said. “However, I still have a concern with many parents – they will not be able to access a computer first and much less understand any of these graphs and this information.”
Ramos-Montigny said she is concerned the website’s terminology may escape many parents.
“The people that don’t speak the language, that have never been in school before, and we have many many more of those people than we have the administrators and the educators. So I still have a concern,” she said.
Board co-president Richard Zeile suggested the data could be issued as a book.
The goal is for parents to be able to understand the information and officials are willing to keep working on making it useful for parents, according to the department.
The MDE said the dashboard might eventually be used to raise literacy rates and put a focus on technical career training.
“This truly was a bipartisan effort to rethink the way we look at school accountability,” said Casandra Ulbrich, the board’s other co-president.
Some groups said more needs to be done to inform parents.
“Providing easier access to more information about local schools is always a good thing,” Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest, said in a statement. “Now Michigan needs to take the next step and make school quality information more meaningful for parents. The dashboards still lack a comprehensive rating to signal overall quality, such as a letter grade.”
The department plans to roll out another phase that will include more data, according to MDE.