Think of it this way: Before heading down a ski slope, skiers see clear symbols indicating the degree of difficulty they’ll encounter, from green “beginner” circles to “check your life insurance first” double black diamonds. Wouldn’t it change the way parents saw schools and interpreted grades if they had a similarly simple indication of the difficulty students will tackle in the classroom?
Under this approach, schools would gain more control over how they are rated and perceived. They could choose to swing for the fences with academically rich work on a daily basis. However, they would also need to find a way to support students to succeed in that work. Alternatively, they could prioritize making students feel successful and not asking anyone to press too hard… and accept a lesser Challenge Index rating. Not every ski slope is designed to be a double black diamond.
Nothing in life is one size fits all, it’s one size fits most. The culture of a school district sets the priorities, and while one district may prioritize test results, another may prioritize the arts. Rating districts as ski slopes is and interesting mind game.