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Go the Extra Mile: Three Ways to Use ESSA Report Cards to Improve Schools

Get double duty from your ESSA reporting with three tips that can improve schools in your district today.

With ESSA implementation afoot, districts are preparing to expend considerable effort creating ESSA mandated report cards highlighting the performance, progress, and goals of their individual schools. However, the heavy lifting required to fulfill this state requirement comes with a silver lining. These report cards help districts unearth a wealth of information regarding the health of their schools. Read on to learn how districts can leverage their ESSA findings to improve their schools in three critical ways.

1. Start a Dialogue

ESSA brings student achievement to the forefront by highlighting the schools’ ability to provide quality education to students. If you were discouraged by how schools in your district have performed, let the findings from your data spur you to uncover the root causes behind those issues. Interview students to get their perspective on their school experiences, listen to the concerns of your faculty, and evaluate the ways in which at-risk students may or may not be receiving the help they require. Districts should encourage ongoing dialogue with schools and help them address their concerns using best practices to improve achievement.

Our Balance Evaluate module guides schools and districts through tough conversations with visualizations that compare their distribution of expenditures against underlying drivers and performance measures. Let Evaluate help your district determine whether resource allocation processes are supporting fiscal equity.

2. Principal Involvement

Did your per-pupil attributions raise more than a few eyebrows? That’s a good thing- depending on what you do next. Thoroughly revisit your allocation and attribution plans to ensure all of your schools are equipped to meet the distinct challenges of your students. The best way to start is by getting your principals involved! Principals who are given autonomy to allocate resources within the district’s strategic plan provide unique insights that can positively impact the school. Work with your principals, community leaders, and district administration to develop strategies that not only address your shortcomings, but engender mutual understanding and ownership.

Learn about how one Principal’s site-level autonomy allows her to maximize outcomes for her students.

3. Copy What’s Working

Your ESSA work up undoubtedly revealed not only the schools that may be at risk, but the schools that are meeting and even exceeding your state and district goals. What are these schools doing right? Look for replicable processes and procedures and work to create district-wide benchmarks to incentivize other schools to follow suit.

Easily see which schools are leading by example using ACES, our answer to calculating and analyzing the breakdown of expenditures at and across district schools.

You spent so much time creating your ESSA report card to meet your state’s requirements; it doesn’t have to end there. With a little extra effort, you can significantly improve the opportunities and experiences of your students district-wide.