Educational Performance Transparency Is Fundamental
Last month the Show-Me Institute released the Missouri Parents’ Bill of Rights (MPBR), a K-12 transparency and accountability proposal that reaffirms that parents and taxpayers should control the educational system they pay for. Since that time, several additional state-focused “Parents’ Bill of Rights” have been introduced by policymakers, and most of the reform provisions in those proposals hew closely to ours.
But more often than not, one provision that seems to get omitted from these plans is a provision that mandates educational performance transparency. As readers will remember, the MPBR requires not only transparency in curricula and school spending, but it also requires transparency in how well students are being prepared to have a productive life. As my colleague Susan Pendergrass has hammered home with the Missouri School Rankings Project:
Missouri schools are failing to teach the core subjects of reading and math and the most recent test scores show that students are falling further behind. Missouri’s Department of Secondary and Elementary (MO DESE) has not offered the level of transparency regarding student performance that is necessary to create an education system focused on higher standards, reducing achievement gaps, and results-based accountability. [Emphasis mine]
Susan’s MoSchoolRankings.org project underlines the danger of allowing DESE to obscure the failings of the schools and districts it oversees. DESE should be the partner to the public in demanding transparency and accountability from Missouri K-12 educational institutions. But all too often, it seems instead to be in cahoots with districts, against the interests of parents and taxpayers.
That’s why mandating educational performance transparency as part of the MPBR was important. It’s also why I think it’s important for such transparency to be included in any bill of rights now being proposed by public officials.