January 2008

“Leading indicators” in education — as in economics — can provide early signs of progress toward academic achievement and thus help district leaders and other stakeholders make informed decisions about efforts to improve student learning — before the test results come in. A new study by the Annenberg Institute, Beyond Test Scores: Leading Indicators for Education, looks at four districts — Chattanooga, Montgomery County (MD), Naperville (IN), and Philadelphia — that have developed leading indicators and seeks to expand the notion of these difficult-to-quantify but important measures, such as student engagement and central office practice.

The Leading Indicator Spotlight Series of research briefs is designed to accompany the report Beyond Test Scores. The series highlights three of the most useful and accessible indicators identified in the report — early reading proficiency, algebra enrollment and achievement, and the use of college and pre-college admission test scores for high school placement.