It was always a convenient cover for institutions such as Oak Park and River Forest High School to claim that they did not have good data on discipline, on tardies, on attendance, on graduation rates, on grades, on extracurricular participation broken down by race, by economic levels, by gender, by Special Ed status. 

For years we were told either that the school didn’t have the capacity to gather and/or analyze such data or that we and local activists were wrong in seeking to break out performance by race.

More recently, all of this data has been collected and selectively presented to the school board and maybe to the public. But until right now, this critical information has not been made readily available to the entire community in a format that was accessible and understandable.

In another signal that OPRF has come to understand the path to solutions to the school’s complex challenges is to create baseline measures that report plain, and sometimes unsettling, truths about our high school.

On Jan. 7, OPRF will add a Strategic Dashboard landing page to its website (oprfhs.org) that will have two components. One will allow an overview of district data and will be shared with other school districts in the state. The other, and more interesting page will be the district-specific Interactive Dashboard. It’s here that the key measures chosen over the past year by a committee of OPRF teachers and administrators will be posted and updated each semester. 

The school knows, basically, the indicators that tell us if we are making headway toward equity at OPRF. Now we will all be working from the same information. 

It is easy to conclude this is all geekery. The reality is that opening the door to this data is a profound culture shift in an institution that has previously lacked the self-confidence to shine a light on itself.

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