Student Success Indicators

Addressing root causes with data and action


It’s time to improve school accountability so every student has the opportunity to succeed.

Policymakers, parents and educators across the country and across political interests recognize current school accountability systems have had mixed success. While many schools and students are better off from the attention and extra resources accountability policies have brought, disparities and inequitable results persist elsewhere.

One solution is to use student success indicators that offer richer data about student and school success.

These indicators provide information about teacher quality, school climate, students’ workforce readiness, community resources and other attributes of successful schools. They augment insights from test scores and graduation rates to better identify disparities among K12 students and spur more urgent actions.

What will it take to expand the use of student success indicators?

Education First has been examining innovative approaches to measuring student success and education equity. To learn more, we looked at three places with different approaches, politics and needs: Illinois, Indiana, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In our research, we asked: What worked about student success indicators? What could be improved? What would it take for the student success indicators in these places to be used more widely?

Watch a video about how education leaders are using these indicators.

Accountability systems need to do better.

Current approaches aren’t consistently leading to better outcomes or reduced disparities, especially in marginalized communities.

Gathering data that provides a more comprehensive, holistic and actionable view of student success could be part of the solution.

Student success indicators are designed to improve outcomes for students who are consistently left behind.

What’s the problem to solve?

The need to address disparities and accelerate learning in every school has never been greater.

In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, student achievement results have declined across the country.

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How can student success indicators help?

  • Generate actionable insights into specific education disparities
  • Provide disaggregated student data on many measures, not just state tests
  • Encourage smarter decision-making about deploying resources and assistance
  • Invite greater coordination between schools and community
  • Create more urgency for action

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What is being measured?

measurement outcomes


Student learning and achievement

measurement access graphic


Resources, opportunities, and support

measurement context graphic


Family, community, and societal

Indicators in action

Education First examined three places working hard to use indicators of student success to improve school accountability and school improvement. These examples reflect different political and historical contexts, showcase different hypotheses about what data are needed to address disparities, and feature different approaches to design, implementation and scaling.

Illinois’ 5Essentials Survey

In use for more than 20 years, the 5Es Survey asks students, parents and teachers to rate schoolwide learning conditions. It provides a different set of insights for how to improve learning for more students.

The goal:

Elevate the importance of strong school cultures, climates, community resources and engagement in addressing disparities and improving student success.

Read the case study

Watch the video

Indiana’s Graduates Prepared to Succeed Dashboard

In late 2022, Indiana unveiled a more comprehensive school performance dashboard that uses a variety of student success indicators to measure progress at key milestones.

The goal:

Consult a wider range of measures to better understand whether students are on track and gaining needed skills for success after high school.

Read the case study

Watch the video

Tulsa’s Child Equity Index

In 2018 in the city of Tulsa, the school district, community and city leaders created the Child Equity Index to better understand how conditions outside schools were influencing student success inside schools.

The goal:

Spotlight community conditions that are affecting children’s opportunities to thrive, and then use the data to design and implement new interventions both in school and out of school.

Read the case study

Watch the video

Action steps

Here’s how to begin the process of using student success indicators in your region.

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Contact us

To find out more, please reach out to Chauncey Bogan

Email Chauncey.

About this project

In early 2022, Education First completed a 50-state landscape scan to understand the extent to which states were using different student success indicators in their accountability and school improvement systems. Our research found a mixed bag. While most states rely primarily on federal requirements in terms of the data they collect, many state leaders expressed strong interest in doing more.

Education First produced the insights here as part of our effort to go deeper and understand what it would take for student success indicators to be more broadly used and improve student outcomes. We are grateful to our funders for their support, as well as for our partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers in our research.

Our funders

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Walton Family Foundation

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