Parents need more information on school quality
WASHINGTON (October 28, 2011) Using the Internet, American parents can instantly retrieve details on just about anything: from where to get the best deal on snow boots to baking tips and recreational sports. Yet some of the most important details about our childrens schools remain inaccessible to even the most engaged and energetic parents.
In ”Parents Want to Know,” The Education Trust outlines how the data collection required by current federal law fails to meet the needs of parents. The brochure suggests six key areas in which parents need more and better information: student achievement, climate, funding, high schools, school districts, and teachers.
”Parent involvement is critical in the effort to improve schools,” said Daria Hall, director of K-12 policy development at The Education Trust. “To be active partners in their child’s education, parents need to know more than what theyre getting under current law.”
Though the No Child Left Behind Act requires states to produce annual school-level report cards, those documents tend to be difficult to understand. Further, in too many cases they are deeply buried on state and school district websites, making them difficult to find.
“NCLB’s reporting requirements were a huge first step, but they are far from enough,” Hall said. “Parents should know if their childs school receives less funding per pupil than does one on the other side of town, and if campus bullying is on the rise. If their child is struggling in science, they need to know if his science teacher is only certified to teach reading, School-level report cards rarely provide these kinds of answers about whats actually happening in our schools. That must change.”
The brochure’s public reporting recommendations follow The Education Trusts recent proposals for next-generation accountability and teacher evaluation systems, both of which aim to help accelerate efforts to boost student achievement and close gaps. Last month, the Obama administration announced an NCLB waiver plan that closely aligns with Ed Trust’s recommendations to set strong goals and targets for states, and gives states the flexibility to determine how their schools and districts will meet them.
”Done right, accountability and public reporting work powerfully together,” Hall said. “Accountability sets clear expectations about the performance we need from schools. Public reporting gives stakeholders the information they need to ensure that all schools and all students meet high expectations.”