What are states using as School Quality and Student Success Indicators?

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that each state meaningfully differentiates its schools based at least on the following indicators:

  • Academic achievement;
  • Another academic indicator (growth and/or graduation rates);
  • English Learner Language proficiency; and
  • An indicator of school quality or student success – The indicator of school quality or student success (SQ/SS), should be academic, but may be non-academic and must be weighted less than the academic indicators.

When ESSA was first passed, there was intense interest in the SQ/SS indicator. Many education experts speculated on the measures states would include in their accountability systems.

So, what have states done with the SQ/SS indicator? Here are three takeaways from the first round of ESSA plans submitted to the US Department of Education, distilled by ExcelinEd:

  1. States were restrained. There has not been the wild experimentation with indicators that was speculated.  Most states—14 of 17—selected measures of student attendance and absence as their SQ/SS indicator. Fortunately, most states are limiting the weight they give to non-academic indicators like attendance to less than 5-10 percent of schools’ overall ratings.
  2. There are some interesting indicators to watch. Seven of 17 states have included measures that monitor the progress of ninth graders. Under Illinois’ “9th grade on-track” indicator, ninth-grade students who earn at least five full-year credits and no more than one semester F are deemed to be on track for graduation. Illinois cites research that supports this expectation, but the jury is still out for now. It will be interesting to see how this measure will affect school behavior.
  3. States are committed to college and career readiness. Ten of 17 states selected at least one indicator that measures a student’s preparedness to attend college, join the workforce or enlist in the military.

For more information, as well as ExcelinEd’s assessment of state decisions, see