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State Accountability Rating Systems: A Review of School Report Cards as Indicators of School Quality

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 provided states with increased flexibility to design school accountability systems. A core element of the law is the requirement that states develop statewide systems allowing for meaningful differentiation among schools, and use this information to identify schools that should be the focus of improvement efforts. Individual states decide on the type of report card, or rating system, that they will use to report this information to the public. While states may take different approaches to measuring and reporting school performance, they have consistently chosen approaches of public reporting that collapse multiple school performance indicators into a summative rating. This policy brief discusses the difficulties that arise when states' school report cards use this summative-rating approach, and provides recommendations for resolving these challenges.