New IIEP publication explores using school report cards to improve transparency
How can data be used to encourage transparency and accountability in the education sector in an era of growing public access to information?
Through an in-depth review of 14 school report card (SRC) initiatives from around the world, the latest instalment of IIEP's Ethics and Corruption in Education series examines various SRC models and the conditions in which they have successfully involved and motivated stakeholders and positively impacted the level of transparency and accountability in education systems. It includes examples from Indonesia, Brazil, and the state of Virginia in the United States, which employ a combination of transparency and measurable consequences that help increase accountability at the school level.
The book examines the impact of factors such as information dissemination methods, formal and participatory approaches, reward and punishment mechanisms, and the incorporation of anti-corruption elements.
The book... challenges all involved practitioners to transform the meaning of School Report Cards from a mere presentation of information, to transparency-induced accountability at a systemic level, commented the authors.
Key highlights of the publication include:
- Reporting in SRCs appears to be more advanced than ever. Comprehensive models include measuring outputs - a key factor in accountability - and parent perception.
- More systematic efforts to employ SRCs to identify corruption often focus on specific areas, such as corruption in finance, teacher behaviour, and information systems.
- SRC data should be presented in meaningful ways by incorporating graphic elements, as well as comparisons with standards and other schools, and within the school over time.
- Most SRCs are missing clear, effective accountability measures, and direct links to those capable of making changes.
- It is important to create mechanisms to encourage and ensure public discussion of information, as such debates have the potential to hold educators accountable, even in the absence of sanctions.
Building accountability: Colombia’s School Excellence Report
In 2015, Colombia introduced School Excellence Reports in an effort to improve feedback to schools, create standards and goals, and engage parents and communities in dialogue.
The reports contain information on average performances in literacy and maths from national standardized learning assessments for Grades 3, 5, and 9, as well as average student promotion rates. Schools also receive scores for their combined performance against a number of indicators.
The results of the reports are available online and are published once a year in preparation for ‘Day E’, when principals and teachers discuss their school’s performance and plans for improvement. To increase accountability, the Ministry of Education encourages schools to coordinate with local education offices and sign an ‘Agreement of Excellence’ listing their goals for the following year.
As part of the study, the authors also developed an index which aims to help policy-makers and programme implementers clearly identify which elements of school-level information can lead to increased accountability and transparency, and, as a result, make informed decisions about how to use SRCs to improve integrity in education.
This publication sets the framework for IIEP's new research on open data in education.
It's important to recognize the potential of public access to information to improve transparency and accountability," says Muriel Poisson, Head a.i. of IIEP's Research and Development Team.
At the same time, there is a real need to investigate the conditions required for this to happen.