Report: States not making the grade on report cards

New report on state report cards finds that education data is missing, hard to find, and confusing.

States are failing to effectively communicate essential information to families, educators, and communities about how their schools are doing, a new report finds.

The report, Show Me the Data: State Report Cards Must Answer Questions and Inform Action, released today by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), finds that states are not meeting basic expectations for producing report cards that are easy to access and understand for all community members.

DQC’s analysis found clunky formats, obscure terms, and missing data prevent people from understanding the full picture of education in their state. Titles and descriptions were often packed with jargon, clouding what the data was actually showing. For example, across all states, report cards used more than five different terms to describe children from low-income families.  The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed last year, builds upon the public, aggregate data reporting requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act it replaces and creates opportunities for state leaders to engage the public in designing the next generation of report cards.

“We can’t afford to remain in the dark about school performance,” said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign. “State leaders of all kinds have a moral imperative to provide useful information that actually meet communities’ needs. It is time to turn on the flashlight and empower those closest to students with data that can improve student outcomes.”

(Next page: Key findings from the state report cards report)

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