Origins of a Composite Index

Richard Rothstein's article that inspired school leaders in the Park Ridge-Niles Consolidated School District argues that schools should be held accountable for the full range of outcomes that the public wants them to generate.

A research associate with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., Rothstein proposes a composite index that balances the various measures used to evaluate student and school performance.

His proposal suggests the following:

• 10 core academic outcomes (literacy, mathematics, history, foreign language, creative arts, etc.) comprise 40 percent of the index;

• three nonacademic outcomes (citizenship, wellness and social ethics) have a 25 percent weight;

• three process indicators, including school completion and parent involvement, comprise 15 percent; and

• three consumption measures (building conditions, school security, class size) provide 20 percent of the composite.

Rothstein's detailed article, "Toward a Composite Index of School Performance," appeared in the May 2000 issue of The Elementary School Journal, published by the University of Chicago. The publication is not available online in full text, but a single copy of the article can be ordered through the journal's website (