Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More than you ever wanted to know about the school report card: REPORT CARD FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR PRINCIPALS

from LAUSD | 16 December 2008

Q: How is the Report Card different from everything else we get regarding school performance? We already get the School Accountability Report Card (SARC).

A: The Report Card is the only tool that tracks school performance beyond test scores, with a focus on progress and joint accountability.

The majority of measures on the Report Card do not exist in any other place that the public can access – e.g., graduation rate calculated using unique student identifiers, Freshman on track to graduate (i.e., have they accumulated enough credits?).

It makes this information transparent, easy to read, and available to the public including parents. We hope that you and parents will like having this information and ask for more.

The SARC is state mandated and will continue to exist, but unlike the Report Card, the SARC is not mailed to parents, is difficult to read, and is focused more on compliance than performance

Q: How did you get the Report Card data?

The Report Card data is collected and reported centrally. State test scores are provided by the California Department of Education (CDE). Internal data is provided by the LAUSD School Information Branch (SIB).

Q. What has the district done to ensure this data is accurate?

The District already captures most of this data in its data warehouse. Principals will preview the data for their schools to ensure they are familiar with the data before it is released to the public.

Q: Why are there blanks in some of the measurements?

In this first year, Report Cards will provide baseline information for each school and the qualitative measures are yet to be developed. As such, some categories of information will be temporarily blank. This is indicated on the Report Card as “Coming in 2009”.

Q: How do I see Report Cards for other schools?

On January 12th 2009, you can access Report Cards for other schools by going online to and using the search feature. At this time, bound books of all Report Cards will also be available at schools and public libraries.

Q: How do I know how my school is doing relative to the District?

District, Local District, iDesign and Network Partner Report Cards will be available online at and in bound books at schools and public libraries on January 12th 2009.

Q: Why should parents look at the Report Card?

Parents should look at the Report Card because it gives them comprehensive information to help with their children’s learning. The Report Card is the only tool that tracks school performance, with a focus on accountability and progress, and makes that information transparent, easy to read, and easily available to parents.

Q: How will parents use the Report Card?

Parents will use the Report Card to learn about the types of tests their children should be paying attention to, the courses they should be enrolled in and more. While the Report Card may have unfamiliar terms, the goal is for parents to work with Principals, teachers and parent organizations to understand these terms. The Report Card will better equip parents to ask questions of principals and teachers so that they can make more informed decisions about their children’s education.

Q: Is the Report Card available online?

Yes. All Report Cards can be accessed online at on January 12th 2009.

Q. How can I get a report card in another language?

Report Cards in multiple languages can be accessed online at on January 12th 2009.

Q. To whom do parents direct questions or comments that they have about the Report Card?

The goal of the Report Card is to encourage parents to communicate with their school Principal and teachers or parent organizations with any questions or comments. The Local Districts with support from Central District are expected to provide Principals with additional support.

Q: How will Principals be prepared to answer questions about the Report Card?

Professional Development sessions have been scheduled in November and December at the Local District principal meeting.

Q: How are you going to measure the qualitative metrics?

The qualitative dimensions have been defined (i.e., quality of teaching, leadership, school culture, campus safety, student and parent connection/satisfaction), but specific metrics within each dimension have yet to be developed. A working group of stakeholders, including union representatives, parents, teachers, and administrators will be formed to work collaboratively to develop these metrics.

Q: How are you going to calculate the school score? Isn’t it just a way to rank schools?

LAUSD’s school score will be developed collaboratively with representation from all major stakeholder groups to best serve our schools and students. Schools will be given credit for both absolute performance and progress. The school score will be transparent and won’t be rolled out until 2010 or 2011.

Q: Doesn’t the school score reflect poorly on the school, Principal and teachers?

No. The school score holds schools accountable for their performance and progress by identifying strengths and areas for improvement. The school score will help teachers, Principals, Local District staff, Central District staff , parents and students work together to determine ways individual schools can improve their performance to better meet the needs of students.

Q: What is the Report Card’s relationship to iDesign schools?

The development of the Report Card began in iDesign at the start of this year. Mr. Cortines first heard about this work as Deputy Mayor, and was able to implement this reform effort district wide when he came to LAUSD as Senior Deputy Superintendent.

All parents with children in iDesign schools will receive a Report Card in January.

Q: How much does the report card cost?

The Report Card cost is approx $700K to print and distribute to parents and schools.

The Gates and Dell Foundations invested heavily in the district and funded the development of the Report Card. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also provided pro-bono contribution to the effort.

Q: Why is the Report Card being rushed? It’s not complete.

The Report Card is a giant step forward for LAUSD that other large urban districts have already taken. NYC and Chicago rolled out their report cards before they were fully finalized, recognizing that they could not be successful without broad exposure and input.

The Report Card is a living document that will evolve over time to increase its usefulness to all stakeholders – administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community members.

The Report Card is also urgently needed to celebrate successes and allow us to systematically recognize and share best practices, and effectively allocate scarce resources (i.e., targeting needed interventions).

Q: Who was involved in the development of the Report Card?

A working team at the district included a cross functional group of representatives from iDesign, Professional Development, Research and Planning, Office of Curriculum, Instruction, & School Support, School Information Branch, ITD, Local Districts, and charters.

In addition, over 700 stakeholders including teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals, parents, students, Local Districts, central staff, UTLA, AALA and community based organizations were involved in reviewing the report card and providing feedback.

Q: Why did you get stakeholder input if you weren't going to reflect it in the report card?

We received hundreds of different pieces of feedback over several months and made changes to the Report Card when the feedback was consistent across many stakeholder groups and improved the usefulness and integrity of the Report Card.

For example, we added

• English Learner metrics

• Disaggregated AYP metric

• SATs

• Placeholder for career ready metric

• Transiency rate to school overview

• History and science CST metrics to Middle School and Elementary School

• Faculty and staff feeling safe on campus placeholder

We also removed “teachers remaining at school” and 1-year change for English Learner reclassification metric.

Q: Won't the report card be used to point fingers at Principals? None of the metrics in here relate to Principal performance.

The Report Card is focused on student outcomes and leading indicators of student academic performance. There are also qualitative metrics about teaching, leadership, school culture, safety and parent/ student satisfaction.

These metrics are about joint accountability for student outcomes and progress and will be collaboratively developed by Central staff, Local District staff, school administrators, teachers, parents and students. We are measuring progress over time with the Report Card, not pointing a finger at any one particular group.

Q: What is the long-term plan for the Report Card and how much will it cost?

The Report Card will be mailed out to parents every year in December.

Other schools, such as Special Education Centers and Early Education Centers will receive tailored Report Cards over the next few years. Independent charters will also receive Report Cards either next year or the following year.

Metrics will be added, deleted and adjusted as needed to improve the usefulness of the Report Card over time. Qualitative metrics will also be added.

The Report Card will cost approx $700-800K per year to print and mail to parents. While providing it online is free, we know that no (sic) all of our families have access to computers or the Internet.

this information was originally posted here.

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