School responses to the New York State report cards

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joseph B. Shedd


School responses, New York, State report cards

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Public Administration


This study describes the kinds of actions that three secondary schools have taken as a result of the first publication of School Report Cards in New York State. The Report Cards contain results for individual schools of the State testing program. There has been no in-depth study at the local school level about the use of the Report Cards. This study explores the state's purposes for the Report Cards and the contrast between political accountability through student performance reporting and the professional accountability of educators for their practice. Even though most states publish reports of school performance, there has been limited research conducted on school report cards and the use of school report card data at the school level (e.g. Derlin, 1991; Gaines & Cornett, 1992; Jaeger, Gorney, Johnson, Putnam & Williamson, 1994; Lucco, 1995; Mitchell, 1995).

This study employs case studies of three secondary schools with different demographic characteristics and different levels of student performance on the New York State's Regents testing program. Data collection techniques included review of documents and archival records as well as interviews of teachers, principals, superintendents and parents in the selected districts.

Within the limited scope of the study, evidence suggests that some of the state's purposes for the Report Cards were accomplished. The study concluded that the Report Cards bridge two contrasting notions of political accountability and professional accountability. Findings suggest that the media are an important influence with both the political and professional accountability of the Report Cards. The case studies indicate that the building principal plays a leading role in the use and discussion of student performance data within schools. The public did not understand the data in the Report Card as clearly as educators. There is no evidence provided by the study that student performance was affected directly by the publication of the Report Cards. Although the Report Cards had little direct impact on instructional policies and practices since teachers believed that changes in assessments and standards were seen as the main impetus for changes, the Report Card was an important document for internal school use for reform efforts.


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