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State launches new tool for school transparency

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Flickr User Nick Amoscato
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The state launched the Parent Dashboard for School Transparency Tuesday. It’s an online site with information about schools in Michigan. The data includes things like test results and student to teacher ratios. Parents can use the information to see how their kid’s school is doing and to compare it to other schools across the state.

But state Board of Education co-president, Richard Zeile said the dashboard isn’t just useful to parents.

“What isn’t inspected isn’t respected,” he said. “And it’s one way to help keep schools from falling into the dysfunction that human organizations are prone to.”

There was a debate over whether the dashboard should include an overall letter grade for the schools. The board decided against that method. It says the current dashboard, with multiple measures, is more accurate and paints a clearer picture. 

The dashboard is the result of lots of parent input, said deputy state Superintendent Vanessa Keesler.

“This has the most parent feedback of any parent focused or otherwise focused dashboard or data reporting rollout we’ve done,” she said.

Some board members expressed concerns about the dashboard. They say it might not be accessible to parents who don’t speak English as a first language or don’t have a computer. Keesler said the department is working to get the dashboard translated and finding ways to make it more accessible.

“It’s an ongoing conversation and we want to keep working with parents from around the state to figure it out,” she said.