States expanding data on school report cards, but room for improvement remains
- A recent survey by Data Quality Campaign (DQC) reveals that 43 states have added new measures to school report cards such as chronic absences, discipline rates and course offerings that reveal more about school culture while 18 states still fail to meet the legal requirement to disaggregate data by subgroups according to race, gender and disability, District Administration reports.
- Some states are completely redesigning report cards: Virginia, for instance, polled about 20,000 people and has replaced the A-F report card with interactive School Quality Profiles that allow parents to view data on absenteeism, graduation rates, and movement in and out of districts, all broken down by demographic groups.
- DQC suggests that states translate state report cards into languages other than English, simplify the language to avoid acronyms and jargon inaccessible to the general public, and disaggregate data in a way that is complete, consistent, and easy to comprehend.
The most recent report by Data Quality Campaign cited Illinois, Virginia, Louisiana, Wisconsin and New Mexico as good examples of states with strong report cards. These report cards were chosen because they are easily searchable and provide information about schools that goes beyond accountability data. States need to keep in mind that these tools are designed to be used by parents, the media and other stakeholders, some of whom may not be familiar with “educationese,” the jargon and acronyms that educators often use in their own communications. States also need to keep in mind the answers most people want to know about schools beyond simple test scores: how safe are the kids? how successful are they at graduating? What options are available to them? Are they happy? Some states are moving to new measures that address these concerns in a more comprehensive way.
School administrators have skin in this game because they are responsible for telling the story of their own school, especially in an age of school choice. Administrators can contact their own state education department and make suggestions on what measures they feel need to be included to make the picture of their school clearer. Administrators can also work beyond the report cards to represent their school to the community through branding, social media and building a relationship with the press.
- District Administration 43 states include more than K12 test scores on report cards, but work remains