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State launches new tool for school transparency

Michigan parents now have a new tool to vet their child’s school.

The state launched the Parent Dashboard for School Transparency today. It’s an online site with information about public schools in Michigan. The data include 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.

You can view the new dashboard here

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R