Ed-DataSchools now have access to a new tool that will make it easier for them to create their state-mandated  School Accountability Report Cards.

The tool was developed by the Ed-Data Partnership, made up of the California Department of Education, EdSource and the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team.

All California schools, including charter schools, are required to annually publish the report card, which contains detailed information on demographics, school safety, academic performance, class sizes, curriculum financing, and other aspects of a school’s performance.

For years, the California Department of Education provided an online tool through which schools and districts could download a template with much of the data for the report card already filled in.

But last year, as a result of budget cuts, and to the dismay of many schools officials, the department only provided a blank template and access to state data files. That meant that school and district personnel had to manually find and add the data to their report cards.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said yesterday that the money saved by the state was “clearly outweighed by the time and trouble being shifted to California’s more than a 1,000 school districts.”

The three partners involved in Ed-Data came up with a solution to restore the pre-populated SARC templates and make them available to schools through the Ed-Data.org website, which offers a plethora of information about schools to the California public.

Under this collaboration, the Ed-Data team will host and maintain an updated version of the SARC web tool. Staff from the CDE’s Analysis, Measurement & Accountability Reporting Division, which oversees the SARC were actively involved in helping design and build the SARC Template Application for Ed-Data and will continue to oversee the data that goes into it. To serve California’s diverse population, the template will be provided in English, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Tagalog, Hmong and Vietnamese.

“I’m glad we’ve found a creative way to restore this tool, and I’m grateful to Ed-Data for stepping up to the plate to help us meet this need,” Torlakson said.

In joining with Ed-Data to restore the SARC template web tool, the CDE has leveraged a partnership that goes back more than 15 years and provides a uniquely rich and user-friendly resource for information on California public schools. It also allows users to compare schools and districts locally or statewide.

The School Accountability Report Cards were mandated by Proposition 98, the 1988 voter-approved initiative that amended the California Constitution to guarantee a minimum amount of funding from property and state taxes for kindergarten through community college education each year.

Over the years, the information that must be included on the SARC has grown as a result of legislative mandates. In 2004, for example, the SARC requirements were expanded as a result of the state’s settlement of the Williams vs. State of California lawsuit. The suit argued that California failed in its duty by not providing thousands of students in public schools with “bare minimum necessities,” defined as textbooks, trained teachers, and safe, clean, uncrowded facilities.  The SARC now includes information related to those issues.

A link to the new SARC template application can be found here. For a sample template, visit the CDE website.  

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