How We Calculate Performance

After talking to over 500 Minneapolis families this past year, we know that Minneapolis families consider many factors when it comes to deciding if a school will work for their student: Will my student be safe? Will they be treated fairly? Will they learn? 

Our school performance ratings are a reflection of the questions families ask themselves when they consider a school. We use publicly available data to measure student outcomes & experiences in academics & climate, as well as look at how a school is treating different students depending on their race/ethnicity or other identity.

We also know that data does not tell the whole story. This is why we work closely with schools to have them represent themselves on their profiles by describing their academic program, culture, values & more. We encourage you to look at an entire school’s profile when deciding if this school could be a good fit for your student.

Performance ratings for schools are based on a single year of data.  We look at three performance areas: 

  • Academics: Number of students on grade level &/or on track for college preparedness
  • Climate: The stability of student enrollment & teacher retention at the school
  • Equity: How different student groups within the school are doing across all the above metrics. 

For each performance area, we assign one of five ratings:

What is the School Performance Rating?

The School Performance Rating (SPR) is a tool to help families understand & interact with school data, empowering them to advocate for their children’s success. Families, school representatives, & community leaders collectively developed this multi-measure definition of school quality. Each eligible school in the Minneapolis School Finder (MSF) receives a percentage value which reflects how well they are doing. These percentages are divided into color bands with red being the lowest rating a school can receive & blue being the highest. The order of rating the colors  is Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue.

The SPR replaces the previous academic rating in the MSF with a more holistic measure, adding climate & equity measures to complement traditional academic benchmarks. Many cities–including Chicago, Denver, & New York City–employ similar ratings for their schools.

The current SPR is not a finished product; this is our first attempt to capture a holistic picture of school quality. Local education & policy advocates are actively working toward changes in the SPR by leading work toward improvements in data quality & quantity.

What goes into the School Performance Rating?

The SPR has three components: Academics, Climate, & Equity. Combined, these make up a holistic rating. Each component is calculated from different measures that indicate a school’s quality in that area. Rating metrics differ between traditional high schools & schools serving grades K-8.

ComponentK8 MetricsHigh School MetricsAlternative HS Metrics
AcademicMCA Proficiency – Math & Reading
MCA Progress – Math & Reading
4 Year Graduation
College Continuation
Composite ACT
7 Year Graduation Rate
Percent of Grads in College or Working
Credit Accumulation
ClimateConsistent Attendance
Teacher Retention
Consistent Attendance
Teacher Retention
EquityProficiency Gaps – Math & Reading
Progress Gaps – Math & Reading
Consistent Attendance Gaps
Teacher of Color – Student of Color Ratio
4 Year Graduation Gaps
College Continuation Gaps
Consistent Attendance Gaps
Teacher of Color – Student of Color Ratio

How is the School Performance Rating calculated?

1. Curve each individual measure.

Each measure is divided into 5 color-coded categories, split by 4 cut points. These cut points are curved to fit a flat distribution on a 0 to 100 scale. This allows for comparison across measures.

For example, Reading Proficiency is split into 5 categories. It is then curved to fit a 20/40/60/80 distribution using the formula y = 0.006882×3 – 0.731027×2 + 25.954613 x – 250.46875, where x is the Actual value & y is the Adjusted (curved) value.

A school with a Reading Proficiency rate of 37% would be given a curved value of 58%, awarding them a Yellow rating. Each measure has a unique curve based on its designated cut points.

2. Calculate a weighted average for each component.

Building on our previous example, see below for the calculations that go into Example School’s Academic rating.

For K-8 Academics, Math Progress & Reading Progress each make up 37% of the total weight. Math Proficiency and Reading Proficiency make up 13% each.

3. Calculate an Overall Rating using a weighted average of the three components

The same technique is used to award an Overall Rating. That is, the three components contribute to a weighted average, the result of which is the Overall Rating.

Example School was given a Yellow rating in Climate & a Yellow rating in Equity. These, combined with the Green rating it received in Academic, come to a Yellow overall rating.

Why Does a School Not Have a Rating?

  1. Limited Data

The most common reason for a missing rating is the lack of quality data. Schools that were missing data for more than half of their measures were not given a rating. There are several reasons why a school may be missing data.

  • For MCA Proficiency, sample size thresholds excluded data for any schools with fewer than 60% of their students taking the MCA in 2022. 
  • For MCA Progress, sample size thresholds excluded data for any schools with fewer than 50% of their students taking the MCA in either 2021 or 2022.
  • For Composite ACT, sample size thresholds excluded data for any schools with fewer than 60% of their students taking the ACT in 2021.
  • Independent schools have less publicly available data. While schools were given opportunities to share data, there are still limitations to what is available.

2. New Schools

Schools that are opening in Fall 2022 or later will not have any data. Schools that opened in Fall 2021 will have limited data.

3. PreK-2 Schools

The MCA is administered beginning in Grade 3. This means schools serving only students before Grade 3 will not have Academic data. 

4. Alternative Schools

Alternative high schools are high schools that predominantly serve students via credit recovery or dropout recovery. These schools only have Academic ratings. This is because much of the publicly available climate data is not meaningful in assessing alternative high school quality. For example, for some schools, quality means giving students the flexibility to learn outside of the classroom, thus attendance is not an indicator of quality. We are continuing work to expand the availability & quality of Climate metrics to be able to provide a holistic rating to these schools as well.

How can I dive deeper into the calculations?

For more information on how the SPR is calculated, see the SPR Calculations Technical Guide.

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