Most states will be considering adjustments to their current school report cards in light of the new reporting requirements of ESSA. Advocates can look to Louisiana’s success as a model for community engagement, simplicity of design, and communications. In March, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released a case study exploring the process Louisiana used to craft their “School Finder” website.
When the Bayou State started the process, they recognized that parents wanted information that went beyond school performance. The Louisiana School Finder was designed to enable parents to compare schools based on location, performance data, and offered extracurricular activities. The Louisiana School Finder also includes “data on graduates’ preparation for college and careers; comparative breakdowns of student group performance; teacher workforce data; and, data on discipline and attendance.” In the future, the state plans to add school finance details, FAFSA completion rates, and teacher attendance rates to the site.
One of the greatest successes of the School Finder came from a deliberate communications and outreach effort. The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) communications team provided a suite of tools to help promote the site, including a one-page flyer and social media graphics that they shared with schools, pediatricians, and even realtors. Their efforts paid off, with more than 25,000 unique visitors to the site in the week after launch.
LDOE had help from nearby friends, as non-profit and community organizations throughout the state helped to gather stakeholder feedback and promote the final tool. Alex Deiro, Marketing and Communications Manager at Stand for Children Louisiana, explained, “There are already lots of good organizations in each state engaging with families and business leaders. The state doesn’t need to know all the ways to engage directly with those individuals, they just need to know the right people that do engage with them.”