Magazine article District Administration

43 States Include More Than Test Scores on Report Cards, but Work Remains

Magazine article District Administration

43 States Include More Than Test Scores on Report Cards, but Work Remains

Article excerpt

States must provide more information than what's required on federally mandated school report cards to give administrators and parents a clearer view of the education culture, according to a recent report from the nonprofit policy organization Data Quality Campaign.

Since No Child Left Behind, states have had to create report cards detailing the academic performance of students in each school. Some 43 states have now added measures that go beyond test scores--such as chronic absences, discipline rates and course offerings--to offer a wider view of how a school is performing and what programs are available to students.

However, 18 states fail to disaggregate student performance by subgroups such as race, gender and disability--a legal requirement. Many others do not make information easily accessible and understandable to parents and community members.

"At their best, report cards help answer questions and inform actions," says Abigail Cohen, senior associate of policy and advocacy at Data Quality Campaign. Report cards also offer administrators a check on how their school is doing, and the chance to tell stories about their schools, Cohen says.

"They should be saying, 'Here's how we stack up. Here's what's going really well. Here's what's not going so well, and what we're going to do about it.'"

State success

Data Quality Campaign named Illinois, Virginia, Louisiana, Wisconsin and New Mexico as examples of states with strong report cards that provide information beyond accountability data that is easy to find and simple for parents to understand.

In Virginia, the state redesigned its report cards to replace an A-F school grading system.

"The board wanted to move beyond a system that was based solely on the percentages of students able to pass the state tests," says Charles Pyle, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education. …

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