BARRE — The Vermont Agency of Education has launched a new online tool called Snapshot to help communities better understand how public schools and students are performing.

Officials say Snapshot will help identify and target resources needed to improve academic outcomes for all students.

News of Snapshot came from Education Secretary Daniel French at a press conference at the Agency of Education in Barre on Thursday.

“Snapshot shows school performance data for every public school, school district and supervisory union in the state,” French said.

“Snapshot is designed to help communities understand how their schools are supporting achievement for all their students. With the annual Snapshot, we’re providing a new level of data to help with this process. Snapshot shows metrics for a school’s current performance and change since the previous year,” he said. “It also has metrics for equity, showing how historically marginalized student groups are performing compared to their peers and the progress the schools are making in closing those gaps.”

At a cost of about $1 million, education officials described Snapshot as unique in the nation in terms of the range of criteria studied and the depth of data delivered. Using Vermont’s Education Quality Standards as a baseline measurement, Snapshot details the performance of schools and students in five major areas: academic proficiency, personalization, safe and healthy schools, high quality staffing and investment priorities.

Data currently available compares information for the 2017-18 school year with the previous year. It will be updated with data from the 2018-19 school year in December.

Six months behind schedule, data in the 2017-18 school year is only available for academic proficiency and the equity index, which measures equal academic opportunity for all students, particularly those identified as “historically marginalized.” Students in that group include different racial and ethnic groups, students receiving free or subsidized meals, students with a disability and students living in poverty, homelessness or in foster care.

Statewide, academic proficiency was met but was declining, according to Snapshot. The state was not meeting the expectation for the equity index.

In the Montpelier school district, Snapshot showed identical results. But Superintendent Libby Bonesteel was still enthusiastic about the information Snapshot would provide to better measure and respond to academic and other needs in the school system.

“Snapshot, overall, once it’s completely filled in with all the information ... I think it’s going to be an excellent tool, not only for school districts but the community,” Bonesteel said. “In terms of what our particular Snapshot shows … it truly didn’t show us anything that we didn’t already know.”

Bonesteel acknowledged the district needed to do more to address equal opportunity in education.

“That is where our district has been found eligible, as in need of equity support,” Bonesteel said. “I think this information can be really helpful for the community to understand where our schools are and how we need to grow.”

Roxbury Village School, which is part of the Montpelier-Roxbury Public Schools District, was not meeting academic proficiency and standards were declining, according to Snapshot. Information about its equity index was not available.

In the Rutland City Public Schools District, Snapshot showed it was meeting academic proficiency and excelling. But like the rest of the state, it also was not meeting expectations for the equity index.

Rob Bliss, assistant superintendent for the Rutland City Public Schools District, also welcomed Snapshot as a new academic aid.

“Any data is good data if we can use it to improve what we do,” Bliss said. “Snapshot takes a big-picture view of your district as compared to what’s going on in Vermont.

“When we look at our local data at the end of the year, we’re getting some really good results. I will be honest and say that not every student is closing the gap, but we do see some really good results,” Bliss added.

On the equity index, Bliss noted that “a full two-thirds of schools did not meet the equity measure.”

To access the Snapshot website, visit www.schoolsnapshot.vermont.gov.

stephen.mills

@timesargus.com

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