Nearly three dozen states now post school-by-school student performance information on the web. But an assessment of these reports by the Heritage Foundation indicates a wide disparity in the types and quality of information that is being posted. The report, titled “The Report Card Report: America’s Best Web Sites for School Profiles,” praises Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania for having the widest array of information and presenting it in a format that is easy to use.

The types of information commonly posted on the web include student population, number of teachers, and percentage of students passing standardized tests, the report says. These data can be valuable to parents, both in choosing a school or district and also in giving them ammunition for challenging their schools to improve. On Pennsylvania’s web site, for example, parents can not only view students’ scores on standardized tests, but also review spending and staffing levels on a per-school basis.

Congress is considering a bill that would mandate that all states publish online school report cards containing certain key pieces of information. Moreover, the proposal in Congress would mandate that the reports provide test scores disaggregated by students’ race and ethnicity. One of the criticisms the Heritage Foundation makes of some states’ report cards is that they only publish averages on key parameters—such as test scores—and might be obscuring persistent problems that can affect one group of students or another.

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