What is a School Accountability Report Card (SARC)?
Since November 1988, state law has required all public schools receiving state funding to prepare and distribute a SARC. A similar requirement is also contained in the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The purpose of the report card is to provide parents and the community with important information about each public school. A SARC can be an effective way for a school to report on its progress in achieving goals. The public may also use a SARC to evaluate and compare schools on a variety of indicators.
What information does the SARC contain?
Although there is great variation in the design of school report cards, they generally begin with a profile that provides background information about the school and its students. The profile usually summarizes the school's mission, goals, and accomplishments. State law requires that the SARC contain all of the following:
• Demographic data
• School safety and climate for learning information
• Academic data
• School completion rates
• Class sizes
• Teacher and staff information
• Curriculum and instruction descriptions
• Postsecondary preparation information
• Fiscal and expenditure data
In addition, NCLB requires that SARCs contain reports concerning the "adequate yearly progress" of students in achieving state academic achievement standards; Title 1 Program Improvement; graduation rates at the secondary level; and, starting with the SARCs to be published in 2004–05, the extent to which "highly qualified" teachers are teaching core academic subjects.
How often must a SARC be updated?
School report cards must be updated annually.
How are schools required to distribute the SARC?
State law generally encourages schools to make a concerted effort to notify parents of the purpose of the report cards and to ensure that all parents receive a copy of the report card for the school their child attends. Specifically, schools are required to notify all parents about the availability of the SARC and to provide parents with instructions about how the SARC can be obtained both through the Internet (if feasible) and on paper (by request). If a sufficient number of a school's enrolled students speak a single primary language other than English, state law requires that the SARC be made available to parents in the appropriate primary language.