Every year Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) releases Annual Performance Reports (APRs), which serve as “report cards” for every public school and school district in the state. These reports are supposed to give parents and public officials an idea of how well our public schools are doing, but in reality they are difficult to understand and poorly matched to the work of schools. Perhaps their biggest problem—and the one that keeps them from being of much use to anyone who wants to hold their schools accountable—is that the rating system for schools is so generous. In fact, the ratings released for 2019 gave the highest possible rating to 98% of school districts.
This paper shows that there is much more variation in performance across schools than is indicated by the DESE accountability system. One important manifestation of this variation is that a high percentage of low-income students in a school is associated with poorer performance at that school, which underscores the importance of tracking the progress of low-income students in all schools to ensure that they are being well served. Finally, analysis of charter schools in Missouri reveals that in general, they outperform the districts in the cities where they operate.
Click on the link below to read the entire policy study.