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Betsy DeVos Releases 'Parent Guide' to ESSA Report Cards

ESSA-letters-600x292-Getty.jpgU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team have created a guide to help parents make better sense of the maze of data that states are required to put in their new report cards under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

You can check it out here. DeVos previously put out a "Parent's Guide" to the law itself.

"Parents deserve to know what is happening in their child's school," DeVos said in a statement. "They should not have to parse through a 500-page legal document to understand how a law or policy affects their children's education. This guide demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing parents with user-friendly tools and the information necessary to make informed decisions. Informed parents become empowered and engaged parents who are able to better advocate on behalf of their children."

ESSA includes a host of new transparency requirements. Perhaps the trickiest one? States will have to break out just how much they are spending per kid in each district and each school, which could help highlight disparities. They'll also have to report post-secondary enrollment, new data on long-term English-language learners, and track how foster, homeless, and military-connected kids are doing relative to their peers.

In addition, states must explain the wonky ins and outs of their accountability system, including their overall student achievement goals; how many kids a school must have from a particular subgroup for those students to count for accountability purposes (otherwise known as an "n" size); the list of indicators used to measure a schools' performance and how much weight each indicator has; how schools are singled out for extra support; and what schools need to do to move on from improvement status.

To help states do this well, the department's Office of Educational Technology is hosting a Report Card Design Challenge. The event, which will take place Thursday and Friday, will challenge web content creators to come up with user-friendly report card landing pages and per pupil expenditure pages, according to the department.

DeVos and company have not, however, put out guidance on the report cards, at least not yet. Many states have signaled that's an area where they'd like to see more official clarification.

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