School & District Management

States Flesh Out Report Cards, but Key Data Still Tough to Find, Study Says

By Sarah D. Sparks — December 04, 2017 2 min read
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States have made some progress in including necessary data in public report cards on school and district quality, but many still have a long way to go to make the report cards easy for parents to find and understand, according to a new analysis by the Data Quality Campaign.

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to make public significantly more information on schools than its predecessor, No Child Left Behind, including individual school spending, rates of students enrolled in advanced courses, and student discipline. ESSA also requires all of those accountability measures broken out for more than 10 different student groups—the Council of Chief State School Officers estimates each report card will now hold more than 2,000 different data points.

States have been struggling to overhaul their report cards to include all of that information while still making the resulting reports “easily accessible and user-friendly.” In the data campaign’s first analysis of state report cards last year, it found a majority of states missed whole categories of data and what information there was, was buried within the site.

This year, the campaign found states improved, though 18 states still do not break out performance for at least one student group, such as ethnicity, gender, or migrant status. Nine states now translate their report cards into other languages, up from only five states last year. But an equal number of states do not disaggregate any of their performance data by student groups. Moreover, 18 states do not disaggregate data for at least one of the groups for which ESSA requires it, such as gender, race, or English-language or disability status.

All but two states now post accountability data from at least the 2015-16 school year, if not from 2016-17. That’s an improvement from last year’s analysis when some states’ most recent accountability data was three years old.

Moreover, the report found states beginning to look beyond static test scores to judge school quality, with 43 states including nonacademic indicators of school quality, such as chronic absenteeism or discipline data, and 28 states reporting measures of school growth. That latter could prove a boon for districts like Chicago’s, which has shown rapid growth, particularly for disadvantaged students.

Graphic Source: Getty


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.