New school report cards should empower communities

Just like students, schools get a report card each year. And, like a student’s report card, the school report card should create urgency for action when the news isn’t good. By providing easily accessible information on how well a school is serving its students, report cards can be a powerful tool for community-driven school improvement.

Massachusetts started issuing school report cards in 2007. This year, the report card format is going through a major revision. This is because of a change in federal statute that requires states to provide more information to the public. Massachusetts officials tell us that they intend to go beyond mere compliance, and see this revision as an opportunity to improve the accessibility of information on schools.  The new report card is still under construction, but you can see a prototype here.

MBAE together with our partner Associated Industries of Massachusetts and 27 members of the MBAE Affiliate Network, comprised of business associations and chambers of commerce across the state, have submitted comments to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education urging them to address a number of issues. 

We think this prototype is an improvement on the older version (click here for an example from the school smack-dab in the center of MA), but key information is missing, and more can be done to make the information accessible to parents, businesses and other community members. In particular:

1.       The report card should explain how to interpret the information presented. Without an explanation, the report cards will not to be useful to those who are not education experts.

2.       The report card should provide more information on whether students graduate prepared for college and career.

3.       The report card should include information about how money is allocated within school districts, shedding more light on how equitably and efficiently resources are used.

You can read our complete comments here. The state will issue the new report card for the first time in December 2018.

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