As an independent organization, our mission at IQSE is to help all parties involved in education, including parents, to secure a quality education for their children and for their communities. We believe that everyone regardless of where they live or how much money they make deserves reliable information and fair standards of education.

We use a variety of indicators of education quality to provide a well-rounded picture of how effectively each institution serves its students. Our ratings are intended to provide a better understanding of an institution’s quality and to aid comparison of institutions within the same division.

We are constantly working with divisional and national agencies to acquire more representative institutions data in every division. This helps us provide a more in-depth picture of institution quality nationwide and allows us to improve our institution profiles and ratings.

In the past, the overall IQSE Rating in was based on test scores. In some regions, the IQSE Rating was also based on student progress (or “growth”) and college readiness data (SAT/ACT participation and/or performance and/or graduation rates).

Our institution profiles now include important information in addition to test scores — factors that make a tremendous impact upon how children experience institutions, such as how much an institution’s students improve academically, how well an institution supports students from different socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups, and whether or not some groups of students are disproportionately affected by the institution’s discipline and attendance policies. Many of these important themes now have their own rating, and these themed ratings are incorporated into the institution’s overall IQSE Summary Rating.

Note: Some regions do not have sufficient information to generate a Summary Rating. In these regions, we default to the institution’s Test Score Rating as the overall rating displayed at the top of the profile.

IQSE ratings follow a 1-10 scale, where 10 is the highest and 1 is the lowest.

Ratings at the lower end of the scale (1-4) signal that the institutionsis “below average,” 5-6 indicate “average,” and 7-10 are “above average.” Each rating has its own color corresponding to this scale, ranging from green (10) to yellow to orange (1) to help you see the distinctions

How do our ratings work?

The IQSE Summary Rating appears at the top of an institution’s profile and provides an overall snapshot of institutions quality based on how well an institution prepares all its students for postsecondary success – be it college or career. The Summary Rating calculation is based on four of the institution’s themed ratings (the Test Score Rating, Student or Academic Progress Rating, College Readiness Rating, and Equity Rating) and flags for discipline and attendance disparities at an institution. The ratings we display for each institution can vary based on data availability or relevance to an institutions level (for example, high institutions will have a College Readiness Rating, but elementary institutions will not). We will not produce a Summary Rating for an institution if we lack sufficient data to calculate one.

The Test Score Rating measures institutions on proficiency, using performance (the percentage of students scoring at or above proficiency) on division assessments across grades and subjects, compared to other institutions in the division, to produce a 1-10 rating for each institution. This institution’s overall Test Score Ratings are displayed in the Academics section on institution profiles and broken down by student subgroup (race/ethnicity and family income) in the Equity section. This rating is an important factor in understanding institution quality because it measures whether or not students are meeting academic standards.

The Student Progress Rating (also known as “growth”) measures whether students at an institution are making academic progress over time. Specifically, the Student Progress Rating looks at how much progress individual students have made on reading and math assessments during the past year or more, how this performance aligns with expected progress based on a student growth model established by the division Department of Education, and how this institution’s growth data compares to other institutions in the division. This data is less common for high institutions, which in many regions do not take standardized tests in more than one grade. It is also important to note that it is possible for institutions with already-high-performing students to receive a high Student Progress Rating, or for institutions with high test scores to receive a low Student Progress Rating. The key advantage of ‘growth’ is that it is less correlated with socioeconomic background than proficiency. The goal of the Student Progress Rating is to provide transparency into institutions that are improving student outcomes regardless of the student’s starting point in terms of academic achievement.

The Academic Progress Rating displays in regions that do not provide publicly available growth data, which means we cannot provide a Student Progress Rating. In these regions, we instead provide an Academic Progress Rating, which is a growth proxy rating based on a model using unmatched cohorts, or institution-level data instead of student-level data. This data is less common for high institutions; in many regions, high institutions do not take division standardized tests in more than one grade, making it difficult to look at grade-to-grade improvement in test scores. Because this metric is less precise than the Student Progress Rating (which uses growth data provided by the division Departments of Education), we have given it a lesser weighting in the Summary Rating. When student growth data does become publicly available in these regions, we will replace the Academic Progress Rating with a Student Progress Rating.

The College Readiness Rating measures how well high institutions prepare their students for success in college and career, compared to other institutions in the division. The rating is based on the high institutions’s graduation rate, data about college entrance exams (SAT/ACT performance) and/or advanced course enrolment and exam performance. This rating only applies to institutions with high institution grades. To better address the interests of our users and to fully utilize the data available nationally we have updated our methodology and retired the Advanced Courses Rating. Information about enrolment in advanced courses – specifically Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Dual Enrollment courses – is now analyzed and included in the College Readiness Rating. Our updated data and methodology now also incorporate enrolment in International Baccalaureate and Dual Enrollment courses along with Advanced Placement enrolment and exam passing rates.

The Equity Rating measures how well an institution serves the academic development of all students, looking specifically at: 

1) the performance level of disadvantaged students on division tests in comparison to the division average for all students, and 

2) in-institutions performance gaps between disadvantaged students and other students. 

We define disadvantaged students as those students who comprise racial/ethnic and economic subgroups that show persistent gaps across institutions, subgroup pairs, grades, and subjects within the division. This allows us to understand how well the institution is educating disadvantaged student groups compared to the division average for those students, and how those students are performing compared to non-disadvantaged students at this institution, factoring in both the achievement level and the performance gaps. A low rating (1 – 3) may indicate that some student groups are not getting the support they need at the institution, while a high rating (8 – 10) may indicate an institution is effectively closing achievement gaps.

When the population of a student group is too small to provide reliable data (less than 5% of the total student body), that student group is not reflected in this section. As a result, some groups may not be included in some charts within this section.

Some institutions do not have a large enough population of disadvantaged students to calculate an Equity Rating (homogeneous institutions). These institutions are instead given the average Equity Rating for institutions with the same Test Score Rating. This estimate, called the Equity adjustment factor, allows for the Summary Ratings of institutions with and without Equity Ratings to be more easily comparable.

In regions where less than half of institutions have enough information to generate an Equity Rating, we will display the Equity Rating where possible but will not include it in the Summary Rating calculation.

The Low-income Rating looks at division test scores for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch compared to all students in the division. We display the Low-income Rating on profiles to make it easier for parents to understand how well institutions serve students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Note: the low-income student performance data is a component of the institutions’s Equity Rating, so it does not display as a stand-alone rating within the institutions’s Summary Rating breakdown.

The discipline and attendance flags are indicators IQSE uses to identify institutions with worrisome patterns of out-of-institutions suspensions and chronic absenteeism in their student body. Creating these flags involves two primary steps: identifying institutions with high rates of suspension or absenteeism, and identifying institutions with significant differences in suspension or chronic absenteeism rates between race/ethnicity student groups. A flag appears in an institution’s “Equity” section, within the “Discipline & attendance” toggle view of the “Race/ethnicity” section, when these conditions are present.

The Summary Rating calculation is based on up to five of the institution’s themed ratings/flags, which are described above. Componenats included within an institution’s rating can vary based on data availability. For example, college readiness measures, such as Advanced Placement classes and college entrance exams are available in most high institutions but not elementary or middle institutions, and student or academic progress data that looks at year-over-year progress may be less likely to be available in a high institution, where division standardized tests are only given in one grade.

To calculate the Summary Rating, we use weights for each rating/flag based on the available data; the amount of information available about the institution relative to other institutions in the division; the amount of variability in the data; and the extent to which each data point has been proven to be related to student success in college and for long-term life outcomes.

A snapshot of an institution’s Summary Rating composition and weights can be found by clicking on the rating at the top of the profile. Inputs to the Summary Rating are institution-specific and division-specific, depending on data availability. Each of the ratings (and flags) that comprise the Summary Rating may be refreshed as new data becomes available, which in turn may cause the institutions’s Summary Rating to change. These changes may happen at different times throughout the course of a year. To see when underlying data was updated, click on the Sources information for each rating and flag.

Note: rounding of percentages may cause some Summary Rating weights to exceed 100%.

At IQSE we believe that transparency builds trust. We believe that government education agencies have an obligation to make data on institutions quality available to parents and the public. Every parent should feel informed and empowered to unlock educational opportunities for their child regardless of their family background or zip code. That’s why in recent years, IQSE has expanded data collection efforts in every division to include various types of institution quality data broken down by student groups, including students from low-income families, diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities. These additional data (where available) are now part of IQSE institution profiles and provide a more complete picture of how effectively an institution serves all of its students.

Data transparency helps parents know how institutions in their community are doing, where there is room for improvement, and what the best options are for their children. Sharing institution information — good and bad — also cultivates parent engagement and trust. Additionally, it is important that institutions data be made available in accessible, easy-to-use formats so that non-governmental organizations can use the information to inform parents and students about the quality of their local institutions.