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State and Local Report Cards

What is a report card? Report cards can be a powerful and effective tool for accountability and program improvement if properly used and implemented. There are many types of report cards, but for the purposes of NRS, our focus is on report cards that assess performance. Report cards that allow meaningful evaluation have the following characteristics:

  • Include outcome and other data,
  • Provide a basis for evaluation of that data, and
  • Present contextual data or interpretive information that aid interpretation and promote understanding.

How are report cards used? Report cards can be used in several different ways to

  • Evaluate program quality,
  • Promote program improvement, and
  • Inform and advocate for the program.

These tools can be produced with local or state-level information depending on the purpose. Local report cards usually include a broader range of outcome measures to evaluate a program. The evaluative standards for local report cards may include past program performance, performance of similar programs, or the local performance standard for the program. State report cards, on the other hand, provide a more limited set of outcomes and use an evaluated standard such as state past performance, state performance standards, or national averages.

Developing a report card for adult education

  • Define purpose and audience - determine the message you want the report card to convey and speak to the audience that you are trying to reach.
  • Select measures - identify the outcome and other measures that reflect the performance of your program(s).
  • Select evaluative criteria or rubric - report cards present data in some type of comparison format that invites evaluation, which may reflect data on past performance, a performance target, or the average performance of other programs.
  • Design and format - communicate your message by presenting it in a format that is well-organized, readable, and simple.
  • Disseminate and promote program improvement - developing a distribution strategy includes using multiple methods to get your information out and the important step of bringing information back to the programs for continuous quality improvement.

Examples of report cards

For more information: Visit the NRS Summer Institute training on developing state and local report cards for adult education on this Web site for an informative guide, hands-on tools, and other resources for developing a report card.

Contact adult education programs in other States where report cards are in use to obtain examples and hear about how these report cards are disseminated.

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The National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS) is administered by the Division of Adult Education and Literacy in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.