I work in finance. Reviewing state report cards is not part of my job description – but as a fluent Spanish speaker, I gladly agreed to participate in the Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC) 2019 Show Me the Data project as our research team reviewed Puerto Rico’s report card for the first time.
As someone who works at DQC but doesn’t take part in our public-facing work, it quickly became clear to me that I was viewing Puerto Rico’s report cards much as any parent would. I didn’t know what to expect or what the report card would even look like. This is the experience of many parents, based on findings from DQC’s public opinion research. In 2018 research conducted in partnership with The Harris Poll, we found that almost 60 percent of parents have looked at school and/or district report cards in the past 12 months. But of those that did not, 40 percent weren’t aware that the resources existed and 32 percent didn’t know where to find them.
Coming into this review, I thought that the report card would provide high-level data about Puerto Rico’s education system as whole. I was looking for information on how many of Puerto Rico’s students overall were proficient at math, or how many were graduating. So I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of information shared on the report card. It included up-to-date information and broke down the data by most federally required subgroups, like gender and race/ethnicity. But like 41 other states, Puerto Rico doesn’t share information for all required subgroups.
The report card also included information on teachers – who they are, what their qualifications are, and their level of experience – which puts Puerto Rico alongside a majority of states that are sharing similar data with the public.
Despite these bright spot findings, I know all states (and Puerto Rico) have work to do to improve their report cards. From DQC’s landscape review of state report cards from across the country, we’ve learned the following are key areas state leaders need to address to ensure the public can easily access and use these resources. Report cards must:
- Be easy to find through an internet search – because if we couldn’t find it, many parents may not find it either.
- Include translations so that families of all backgrounds can use the information provided.
- Be easy to navigate so that parents know where to look for the information they’re most interested in.
- Include data on all federally required subgroups so that all communities can understand the education their students are receiving.
As a first-time reader, I was excited to see that states are required to share this information with the public and that Puerto Rico is making a real effort to do so. As a regular civilian, I never would have known that this existed – and am excited to dive into the Show Me the Data report compiled by my colleagues to learn more about what other states are doing. I encourage you to take a look at what DQC found across all state report cards – as well as Puerto Rico’s resource.
This blog is also available as a story on Medium.