Chalkbeat reports that the rating agency GreatSchools has revised the way it measures school quality. Critics have long complained that its reliance on test scores as the measure of school quality disadvantages schools that enroll children of color and encourages housing segregation by steering white parents to white neighborhoods.

In the future, GreatSchools will rely on test score growth, not just scores alone.

This, of course, puts pressure on teachers and schools to raise test scores. Test scores thus continue to be the single most important criterion of school quality, instead of school climate, experienced teachers, class size, a rich arts program, and other consequential elements.

Matt Barnum writes:

America’s most widely used school rating system is overhauling its approach with a series of changes that will weaken the link between race, poverty, and school scores.

The website GreatSchools is rolling out the changes nationwide Thursday after introducing them for schools in California and Michigan in August. They are part of an effort by the site to make its ratings better reflect how much schools help students learn, rather than things like students’ prior academic achievement and poverty levels that schools don’t control.

“The new system is better because there is more of a focus on learning and growth and what’s actually happening in schools,” GreatSchools CEO Jon Deane said. “We know that’s more important.”

The move comes amid growing scrutiny of GreatSchools’ system of judging schools, including a Chalkbeat investigation that found that its ratings effectively steered families away from schools serving more Black, Hispanic, and low-income students.

GreatSchools says the average school will see only a modest score change. Still, the shifts mean that the tens of millions of people who find the ratings on real estate sites like Zillow will now see a different measure of school quality, potentially affecting enrollment patterns that contribute to school segregation.

Notice how the rating agency conflates test scores with learning. The changes for schools’ rating will indeed be modest because they are still measuring schools by test scores, which are highly correlated with wealth and poverty, special education status, and LEP status.

*sorry about the error in the original headline. I write most posts on my cellphone so I did not see the last words in the heading. My error and my apologies.