Secretary DeVos Takes Steps to Ensure State Report Cards Provide Accessible. Accurate and Transparent Information on How Schools are Performing

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released in September important information on how local education leaders can make sure parents and caregivers have accurate and accessible information on how schools are performing in their state. The guide, Opportunities and Responsibilities for State and Local Report Cards, is aimed at assisting education leaders with the design and implementation of state and school district report cards as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It follows the release of a special Parent Guide to State and Local Report Cards issued by the Department of Education in 2018.

“State and local report cards should be a rich source of information for parents to understand exactly how their child’s school is performing, how much is being spent on their child, and how it compares to other schools in their community,” said Secretary DeVos. “But, if report cards are hard to understand or obfuscate, they will not serve their intended purpose which is to empower families with relevant, accurate and actionable data. The information released today is meant to help state and local leaders make sure the report cards they are developing, as required by law, achieve ESSA’s intended goal.”

During development of the document, the Department held listening sessions with parents and other stakeholders to gather feedback about effective and accessible ways to represent data on state and local report cards. These insights guided the development of Opportunities and Responsibilities for State and Local Report Cards. Stakeholders emphasized the need to provide transparency about how well a child’s school is performing and ensure that report cards provide information in a manner that parents and the general public can understand and use. The Department also published a draft version of the document for a 30- day public comment period earlier this year.

This document clarifies the requirements for states and districts regarding the reporting requirements in section 1111(h) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by ESSA, and provides information states and districts may consider in developing and disseminating report cards.