U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has unveiled a new tool to show the public a snapshot of how schools fare in reading and math achievement, graduation rates and participation in challenging Advanced Placement exams.

The so-called dashboards, one for each state and the District, aim to distill the overwhelming amount of data on student achievement into a simple format that illustrates troubles and bright spots for schools. The two-page reports, filled with graphics, include pass rates on national and state reading and math exams for fourth- and eighth-graders, national and state graduation rates and the number of schools meeting or falling short of No Child Left Behind goals.

Spellings said last week that the reports will “help parents and policymakers understand how each state is performing.” She plans to use them to spark discussion in upcoming visits to Washington state, Oregon, California and elsewhere. “We publish data to guide and promote improvement,” she said.

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