Indiana education department prepares to launch new data dashboard

State officials say the website is just weeks away from going live to the public

By: - November 16, 2022 6:30 am

Indiana education officials will soon launch a new school performance dashboard. (Demo image from the Indiana Department of Education)

Indiana education officials are weeks away from launching a new online dashboard that seeks to increase transparency around school performance data.

The new Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (GPS) is expected to go live in December, although an exact launch date still has not been determined.

Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner told the Indiana Capital Chronicle that school superintendents and principals already have password-protected links to view their pages on the dashboard and validate their data before the dashboard’s public launch. 

Members of the State Board of Education also have access and are providing feedback to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), which is leading the effort.

“We’re looking for ways that we can improve (the dashboard) so that they have actionable data to use to drive improvements in their schools,” Jenner said, adding that the publicly-available dashboard will come together once initial improvements are made.

What the dashboard entails

The site will feature visual representations of various data pertaining to individual schools and school corporations, as well as measurements for school performance statewide.

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For grades K-8, that includes indicators like third grade literacy rates, eighth grade math proficiency, student attendance, 21st Century Scholars enrollment and percentages of students completing advanced coursework. In high school, data is expected to highlight students’ on-track status for graduation, attendance, SAT performance, FAFSA completion rate, college and career coursework, and diploma strengths.

Representatives from the Indiana Department of Education said data on the site can be filtered by factors such as students on free or reduced-price meal plans, race or ethnicity.

The dashboard indicators were developed after the state board of education approved the selection of five characteristics to indicate a student’s preparation for life after high school: academic mastery, career and postsecondary readiness, communication and collaboration, work ethic, and civic, financial, and digital literacy.

Placing priority on those metrics, the dashboard seeks to help Hoosier schools increase focus on improvement and move away from more punitive actions, like previous state takeovers of under-performing schools.

The IDOE describes it as a “paradigm shift in terms of school accountability for Indiana.” It moves away from reliance on state standardized test scores as the basis for judging school quality and success. Critics maintain such tests are more reflective of a school’s poverty level than of actual student achievement.

Now, state leaders emphasize the new GPS dashboard will make available more in-depth data about schools and student performance — which will ultimately improve Indiana’s education system and help ensure students are prepared for life after K-12.

That focus comes amid recent dismal performances by Indiana’s high school graduates, with disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 40% of high school students in Indiana have no plan for life after graduation, according to the IDOE. Of the Hoosier graduates who do pursue postsecondary education after high school, fewer than half complete the diploma program on time.

Just 25% of Indiana students secure a postsecondary credential in the four years following high school graduation, and only 33% secure a credential in six years, according to state data.

Lawmakers seek more transparency, accountability

The IDOE developed the dashboard as required by legislation the governor signed last year. The law directs the state agency and state board of education to develop a student performance dashboard that includes multiple measures, including longitudinal data.

During discussion of the bill, state leaders said they’re looking to the dashboard to better measure school and student performance and improvement.

Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said the dashboard will additionally help families make decisions about what schools their children should attend, including through the use of state vouchers.

Lawmakers are already beginning to embrace the dashboard.

Last month, Indiana’s bipartisan interim education committee approved multiple education bills expected to be filed during the 2023 legislative session.

That includes an anticipated repeal of the annual school corporation performance report, essentially replacing it with data now being collected with the Indiana GPS dashboard.

Some of the dashboard indicators could also be used for school grades in future academic years. 

Indiana’s A-F letter grading system for schools has previously calculated grades through a formula adopted by the state board of education. For elementary, grades were based primarily on ILEARN scores. In high school, they’ve been based on state testing, as well as college and career readiness benchmarks.

State lawmakers and the state board of education still have to hash out the details for an impending overhaul of the grading system, however.


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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.