Accountability in the Edina Public Schools Then and Now—A World of Difference

Here’s a striking visual that captures the decline in accountability and transparency in the Edina Public Schools (EPS) in recent years. It’s an opportunity to compare—back-to-back—the EPS Annual Reports for 2003-04 and 2016-17. (The report for 2017-18 is not on the EPS website, for some reason.)

The 2003-04 annual report is 97 pages in length and laden with facts, figures and tables. Its table of contents for figures and tables alone fills seven pages.

The report’s executive summary explains that “maintaining high quality educational programs requires an effective accountability system” to track results across the whole system. The annual report’s “comprehensive district profile,” it says, is one of that system’s “most important components.”

The report contains voluminously detailed information about student academic achievement with respect to EPS’s curriculum and instruction, the district’s performance in comparison to the state and the nation, and student progress over time. “A vast majority of students (92%) and parents (95%) report that schoolwork is challenging,” according to the report.

The 2003-04 annual report was a detailed performance document. By contrast, the 2016-17 annual report—a mere four pages long—reads and looks like a promotional brochure. It mentions student performance on state tests in reading, math and science on the next-to-last page—below a picture of “community conversations” on race and equity, the Healthy Lives “food rescue program,” and middle school media literacy classes.

Readers must look closely to see that, in 2016-17, only about 65 percent of EPS students in grades 1 to 7 were meeting annual academic growth targets in reading, and about 63 percent were doing so in math. That is, one third were failing to make the academic progress expected on nationally normed tests.

Edina parents and citizens would be well-advised to call for a return to the accountability standards of fifteen years ago—and to demand that the EPS School Board and administration ensure this happens.