Policy

Report: State Report Cards Need Improvement

States are failing to provide teachers, parents and the general public with easily understandable and accessible reports on school performance, according to a new report from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).

The report, Show Me the Data: State Report Cards Must Answer Questions and Inform Action, examines school performance report cards produced by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The DQC evaluated each state's report card based on what information was included, how it was displayed and whether it was accessible and understandable to the general public.

According to the report, only four states meet the data reporting requirements introduced 15 years ago as part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was introduced last year and builds upon the reporting requirements of NCLB. The DQC encourages states to take this opportunity to reexamine their school performance report cards.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 19 states require three or more clicks from search engine results to reach the state report card, making data difficult to find;
  • 10 states’ most recent state assessment data is from the 2012–13 or 2013–14 school year;
  • 45 states produce report cards in English only and provide no resources to have it translated into other languages, creating a barrier for English language learners;
  • Only 13 states publish student growth data on their report cards;
  • No states provide financial data transparency, including sources of funding; and
  • 28 states do not publish measures of school quality beyond test scores, such as school safety records or absence rates.

In addition to the report, the DQC offers examples of state report cards that may serve as exemplars for various reporting criteria, as well as a scavenger hunt activity that lets participants experience a state report card through the eyes of a parent. The DQC also offers a downloadable Excel spreadsheet of all of the data used in its analysis.

The full report and supporting materials are available as downloadable files from the Data Quality Campaign's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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