At the much awaited DASS is being presented here are a few things that Continuation Schools can do to prepare for this transition. Full disclosure, I did not attend the RAPSA conference, however, I did meet with a task force member and get some clarification and ideas of how we can move forward.
2. After watching the webinar think about the internal data you and your team are collecting and think about what type of data you can collect within your school (I will provide ideas later in this post)
3. The DASS indicators (as of now)
If you want your data to reflect a true dropout rate (as provided by this formula) LEA’s will have to redesignate student grade level based on credits. Meaning if a Senior comes into your school with 5 credits, they would be a 9th grader in CALPADS, not a 12th grader. This a huge shift, CALPADS is overwhelmed with how to calculate the College and Career Indicator, so it will be up to LEA’s and schools if they want to spend the time hand entering a students grade because as of now CALPADS cannot accommodate this task. If you do this you will be able to calculate the growth that your school provided to students. This is a growth model like the other indicators. Again, work with your district, talk about it with others, but this is a huge shift.
The second choice is to leave your CALPADS data as is and consider the baseline data. Meaning, you do not recalculate student grades based on credits accumulated, if you do not recalculate student grade levels already. This is the choice my school has taken as of now. We will take a look at the data, wrap our heads around what the dashboard is saying, and create goals based on growth. This will be our point of growth. I will also encourage CALPADS to calculate graduation requirements for individual school districts so that longitudinal data will reflect student graduation rates with LEA/District’s graduation requirements to streamline this process.
OR and a big OR, (This is Jamie thinking way outside the box) is something I thought of is agreeing on a common graduation requirement for alternative education...or really continuation high schools. Meaning, what if we thought that 220 credits and the CCI indicator were indicators that would validate the diploma a student receives from a continuation high school. THIS IS TOTALLY FOOD FOR THOUGHT. But it would be interesting to have that conversation amongst continuation schools and with all LEA’s so we can really come to consensus on what students need to be successful after high school.
So to say this in another way, students can fulfill the CCI by doing one of the items listed on the menu for the DASS, one of those ways is the workforce certification. However, don’t get caught up on the “certificate” because from what I understand this is and can be something that is created at the school site and a can address the CCI indicator.
I often see these skills demonstrated in schools that have extended orientation, or students are enrolled in an orientation-like class for a quarter, or trimester, or whatever structure is in place. *There are many names for these types of classes, but these are the classes students are expected to take upon entry to the class, but this class can be taken at any time they enroll in your school if they did not fulfill another CCI indicator on the menu.
I really appreciate the alternative measures of alternative schools. I appreciate the thought and hard conversations at the state level that went into this process. This is a process. We can be a part of the process. I will encourage everyone to speak up and ask questions and give suggestions to the DASS team via email and feedback (all contact information is on the last slide of the webinar ppt). I am hopeful that we will be given baseline data and indicators to focus our work and grow as a program. I am a champion for hope and a champion for students and strive to bring equity to all vulnerable youth enrolled in any alternative schools. However, do not stop calculating internal data within your school. There is a narrative piece to this work and you will need to justify the data. Keep tracking your data on student credit retrieval, student attendance (not ADA, but like the real numbers) including tardies/lates, student grade acquisition (not just D’s and F’s), work with your local community college and track longitudinal data of your students in the community college system, etc. There are so many of these important measures that we need to consider before we make changes to our schools and invest money via our LCAP. Let’s be purposeful in this decision making and consider structural and pedagogical changes based on what we find, not just from what we think or what we saw at another site.
Let’s encourage CALPADS to calculate our graduation criteria (credits) and calculate those true grad rates based on the one-year cohort rate.
Let’s work together and track our data and gather evidence on best practices, rather than rely on our gut or intuition. Let’s use technology to come together and get off of our island and tackle this beast together and use it to unite us and create goals of being able to provide structures for vulnerable youth that provides academic proficiency across the board. I want the art and science of what we do every day to paint a picture of every continuation school beating the odds and changing the lives of every and any student enrolled in one of our programs. Let’s have conversations with our districts, brainstorm, then come together and continue this conversation together as a continuation school community to look at the benefits of these indicators to combat negative stigmas and assumptions. Let’s come together and problem solve and work together to do what is best for kids. Change is good, but be part of the solution. This is a process and your input is valued and needed.