This week parents of children in Los Angeles Unified School District will receive the second annual report card evaluating their child’s school. The report card is one of the initiatives launched by the District to increase transparency and help parents hold the schools accountable for student achievement and overall school performance. Parents may wonder what the report card is for and why they should care.
The answer is that it can provide visibility into the goings on at the school that parents have not had access to in the past. Specific academic areas such as standardized test results by student demographic, graduation rates and teacher attendance are tracked along with more contextual elements such as campus cleanliness, safety, bullying, and overall student satisfaction. Teachers, administrators, students, parents and staff members are all surveyed and their responses are added to the results of the standardized tests to compile a snapshot of the school.
The real benefit of the School Report Card is that it gives parents a starting point to advocate on behalf of their child if necessary. For example, if math scores in a given demographic are not improving, parents can mobilize to work with the teachers and administration to improve math instruction for those children, or if bathroom cleanliness is reported as an issue by the students, parents will know and can work with the principal to ensure a hygienic environment. As parents we know that our children are not always the most forthcoming about what goes on at school. It can be very valuable to know what the campus culture is like, as reported by the students and teachers.
Last year, the School Report Card was met with some skepticism and a little bit of outrage by parents who were concerned about the expense given the debilitating budget crisis in public education. The cost is less than .30 per student and the majority of the funds are donated.
For more information on the School Report Card see the LAUSD website.