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State report cards should provide parents and the public with meaningful information about students and schools. But when this resource is missing data, hard to find, or difficult to understand, families and communities are left in the dark.
For a fourth year, DQC examined report cards from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see how well state leaders are using their most public-facing resource to empower the public with quality information. While the review was conducted in January 2020, DQC made the decision to postpone the release of this year’s review as the pandemic began and leaders nationwide were rightfully focused elsewhere.
Making required data available
are still missing at least one required student group in their displays of disaggregated student achievement data. While the decrease in this number is a significant improvement from previous years, state leaders must make providing the full picture of student performance for each student group a priority.
While every state includes graduation rate data, 25 states do not include that information broken out by all of the federally required groups of students. This data is a missing piece in helping communities understand which students may not have the supports they need to complete high school.
25 states do not include all the required information about teacher experiences, such as information about whether teachers are inexperienced or don’t have required credentials. Schools that serve low-income students are more likely to have higher concentrations of these teachers.
While most states publish per-pupil expenditure data, the majority of states are still working to fulfill the new requirement in ways that are meaningful and actionable to communities. State and local decisionmakers need a picture of how dollars are being spent in service of student learning.
43 states reported student growth data on their report cards this year. Growth data measures student test scores over time and offers a much richer understanding of student performance, especially when considered side by side with proficiency scores.
Providing meaningful transparency that informs families and communities
Rounding out the picture of school quality
25 states include career and technical education (CTE) enrollment or completion data, up from 16 the previous year. Information on CTE paints a fuller picture of the options that are available to students.
13 states include teacher demographic data, up from 11 the previous year. Access to a diverse and representative teacher workforce is key to meeting the educational and social-emotional learning needs of all students.
Progress is possible
- Delaware built on the federal requirement to make the per-pupil expenditure data more useable for families and communities by focusing on user needs.
- Minnesota and Washington made the language on their report cards easy to understand.
- Idaho, Oklahoma, and Illinois provided context to make the information more meaningful.
- Rhode Island’s leaders are helping ensure equitable access to the critical information families and communities need to understand how their children are being served by creating charts and graphs specifically designed for mobile use.
- Ohio state legislation requires that data related to school and district performance be reported publicly, even though accountability ratings will not be calculated for the year – showing that state leaders have committed to transparency and the importance of data for planning and best serving Ohio students during the upcoming school year.
Show Me the Data: There Is No Finish Line for Report Cards
- Use our scavenger hunt – updated this year to include a school spending section – to examine your state’s report card and learn what information you can and can’t find.
- Share this report. Start a conversation in your community about our findings and why it is important for families and communities to have the information they need to make decisions.
- Read our recommendations for state leaders to release updated report cards this year to inform local decisionmaking and recovery efforts. State leaders should consider how they can use their state’s report card to share updates on recovery efforts and ensure transparency moving forward.
- Read our recommendations on publicly reporting state data to ensure that every community understands how schools and students are doing.
In January 2020, a team of DQC staff reviewed school report cards for all 50 states and the District of Columbia using categories such as ease of access, format, data elements, and subgroups. The indicators we looked for reflect both what is federally required and the information we know is valuable to families and communities. We also contacted each state with the opportunity to provide a link to their school report cards for analysis. Once the data collection was complete, the results were reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.
While the review was conducted in January 2020, DQC postponed the release of this year’s review due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data included does not reflect any updates to report cards made by states after DQC’s review. For more detailed information, please see the methods section included in our data file.