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Consumer-Oriented School Rating Systems and Their Implications for Educational Equity

Policy Brief - Apr 13, 2023

Author(s) - Jeanne M. Powers, Arizona State University

Professor Powers describes the growing evidence base about these rating systems, their purpose purportedly being to help families navigate increasingly complex school choice options. One consistent research finding is that schools’ ratings, or the measures that comprise school ratings, are associated with schools’ demographic characteristics, such as students’ race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The association between ratings and demographics is stronger for status metrics (or measures of a school’s performance at a specific moment in time) and weaker but still influential for growth metrics (or measures of a school’s performance trends over time). Status metrics tend to generate lower ratings for racially diverse schools, while growth metrics tend to generate higher ratings for them. School demographics also shape the way parents and other stakeholders respond to surveys or provide descriptive comments about schools.