How public schools are rated annually needs to be expanded to shed light on gaps in access to the best teachers, race and income, state officials said Monday.

Under current rules, districts are given letter grades yearly based largely on how students fare on key tests.

That would not change.

But doing so ignores the wide range of school performance in a district, including access to certified teachers, officials said.

For instance, students of color are more likely to have an uncertified teacher or one teaching outside their field, according to figures compiled by the state Department of Education.

A total of 44 percent of students of color had a less qualified teacher compared to 35 percent of white students.

In addition, 41 percent of students from poor families had an uncertified teacher or one working outside their field compared to 34 percent of students from higher income families.

The issue was discussed during a meeting of the Accountability Commission, a panel of educators and others that advises the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Jessica Baghian, assistant state superintendent for assessments and accountability, said a single letter grade for districts is a strong sign of district quality.

"But it can also undercut the work of school system leaders telling a more complex story," Baghian said.

Baghian said major disparities often exist in large school districts.

In A-rated public school districts, gradation rates ranged from 34.5 percent to 100 percent, according to department figures from 2016.

In addition, students in 90 percent of D and F schools came from poor families compared to 56 percent in A and B schools.

No votes were taken.

Baghian said she wanted commission members to digest the figures as part of the information gathering before the panel recommends any reporting changes to spotlight equity issues.

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