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When Equity Is Optional: Low-Graduation-Rate High Schools and the 67% Threshold

In our When Equity Is Optional series, we analyzed data from the first year of ESSA implementation in 10 states (Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and Washington) and found that states have used ESSA’s flexibility to take wildly varied approaches to school ratings and school improvement.

ESSA requires states to identify high schools where fewer than 67% of students graduate for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI). This might seem like a bright-line rule that would affect states similarly, but the likelihood that high schools were identified varied widely—largely due to differences in graduation rates between states but also because of state policy choices that overlook some low-graduation-rate high schools. Reporting a four-year graduation rate below the 67% threshold did not guarantee a high school would be identified.

Students’ odds of graduating high school depend on the state they live in–which means some states have few low-grad-rate HS under #ESSA and others have hundreds. #WhenEquityIsOptional report from @All4Ed explains: Share on X

When Equity Is Optional Series

November 18, 2020

Publication | Accountability and Support, Every Student Succeeds Act, Funding Equity

When Equity Is Optional

A series exploring how states used ESSA’s flexibility to take different approaches to school accountability—and the consequences of those choices for students.
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November 18, 2020

Publication | Accountability and Support, Every Student Succeeds Act

When Equity Is Optional: Students of Color More Likely to Attend Low-Rated Schools

School ratings can reveal disparities in the quality of education different groups of students receive. Black and Latino students were more likely to attend low-rated schools than White students.
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November 18, 2020

Publication | Accountability and Support, Every Student Succeeds Act

When Equity Is Optional: How State Choices Affect Ratings and Identification for Support under ESSA

Students in low-performing schools—who are much more likely to be students of color or from low-income families—in different states have very different odds of receiving the support they need to improve.
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January 14, 2020

Publication | Accountability and Support, Every Student Succeeds Act

When Equity Is Optional: Do School Ratings and Accountability Systems Send Consistent Signals?

Across 10 states, many schools with low ratings were overlooked to receive additional help and supports from their state and school district.
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Anne Hyslop

Director of Policy Development

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Ziyu Zhou

Research and Data Specialist

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