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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.
Providing meaningful transparency that informs families and communities
provide the option to translate their report card into a language other than English. Translating report cards into the languages spoken in a state ensures that all families can understand school quality and student progress. While Google Translate can serve as a place to start, it alone does not meet translation needs.
Rounding out the picture of school quality
include postsecondary enrollment data, up from 24 the previous year. This data adds context to high school graduation rates and helps users understand whether schools are helping their students get to the next step.
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.