May 2018

A collaborative publication of the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) and The Advocacy Institute

This fact sheet is designed to accompany the Stakeholder Guide to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and gives you summary information about what ESSA requires in terms of report cards (both state and local)The fact sheet has the following sections:

 Back to top

In a Nutshell

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—the nation’s major federal law related to public education in grades pre-kindergarten through high school. Passed in December 2015, ESSA continues and greatly expands upon the previous requirement that both SEAs (states) and LEAs (local districts) receiving Title I, Part A funds prepare and widely disseminate an annual report card (ESEA section 1111(h)(1) and (h)(2)).

State and local report cards must include information about public schools related to a wide variety of student and school performance metrics, accountability, per-pupil expenditures, and educator qualifications, as well as any other information that the SEA or LEA deems relevant.

State and local report cards must be:

  • developed along with parents;
  • concise and presented in an understandable and uniform format accessible to persons with disabilities;
  • provided in a language that parents can understand (to the extent practicable); and
  • posted annually on state and LEA websites on or before December 31 for the preceding school year (e.g., by December 31, 2018, for the 2017-2018 school year.

 An SEA must make its report card available on a single webpage of the SEA’s website (ESEA section 1111(h)(1)(B)(iii)). For more information regarding accessibility of report cards, see ESSA State and Local Report Cards Guidance Non-Regulatory Guidance, Questions B-8-11.

Under ESSA, state and LEA report cards must include: (1) an overview section and (2) a detail section. These sections are described more fully immediately below.

 Back to top

Overview Section of Report Cards under ESSA

The overview section must contain key metrics of state, LEA, and school performance and progress for all students as well as performance and progress data that are disaggregated for, at a minimum, economically disadvantaged students, students from each major racial and ethnic group, children with disabilities, and English learners. The information to be provided in the overview section includes:

  • the number and percentage of students at each achievement level (at least 3) on each of the state’s academic assessments in mathematics, reading/language arts, and science;
  • the English language proficiency of English learners;
  • the performance on each measure within the state’s academic progress indicator (such as growth) for schools that are not high schools;
  • high school graduation rates (four-year cohort and extended-year, if state is using); and
  • the performance on each measure of school quality or student success.

NOTE: Disaggregated student achievement information for homeless children and youth, children in foster care, and students with a parent who is a member of the Armed forces on active duty must be included in either the overview or the detail section.

Back to top

Detail Section of Report Cards under ESSA

The detail section must contain all remaining information required by ESSA including:

  • the minimum number of students (N-size) necessary to be included in each of the student subgroups for use in the accountability system;
  • progress toward the long-term goals and measurements of interim progress for academic achievement, graduations rates, and English learners achieving English proficiency for all students and for each student subgroup;
  • the state’s system of meaningful differentiation including the indicators, the weight of each indicator, and the methodology used to determine consistently under-performing for any subgroup of students;
  • the number and names of all schools identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement;
  • the percentage of students assessed and not assessed, for all students and each subgroup of students;
  • information submitted to the Civil Rights Data Collection regarding such measures as suspensions, expulsions, chronic absenteeism, bullying and harassment, preschool enrollment, and teacher qualifications;
  • per-pupil expenditures of federal, state, and local funds for each school district and each school for the preceding year (beginning with 2018-2019 SY);
  • number and percentages of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who take the alternate assessment on alternate academic achievement standards by grade and subject;
  •  results of the state on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and math in grades 4 and 8 compared to the national average of NAEP results;
  • enrollment in public and private postsecondary education, where available, by each student subgroup;
  • educator qualifications;
  • information on school improvement funds, by LEA and school;
  • any additional information the state believes is important to parents, students, and other members of the public.

 Back to top

School District (LEA) Report Cards

Districts must issue annual report cards that provide the same information as the Annual State Report Card (except NAEP information) and must also provide information that shows:

  • how students in the district achieved on the academic assessments compared to students in the state as a whole; and
  • for each school in the district, how the school’s student achievement on the academic assessments compared to students served by the district and the State as a whole.

 Back to top

Checking Your State’s Report Cards

The ESSA State and Local Report Cards Guidance Non-Regulatory Guidance provides a helpful checklist of all required elements of both state and local report cards in Appendix D. Access this non-regulatory guidance at:

Back to top

Resources of More Information

Communicating Performance: A Best Practices Resource for Developing State Report Cards | Council of Chief State School Officers, 2017 (November 22). Online at:

Show Me the Data 2017: States Can Improve Report Cards This Year | Data Quality Campaign. Online at:

School Report Cards Do Not Matter if Parents Can’t Find Them | Fordham Institute. Online at:

Webinar: What Makes a Good ESSA Report Card | National PTA and Learning Heroes. Online at:

3 Ways to Engage in New ESSA Report Cards | National PTA. Online at:

ESSA State and Local Report Cards Guidance Non-Regulatory Guidance | U.S. Department of Education (January 2017). Online at:

ESSA Dear Colleague Letter on Delayed Reporting of Per-Pupil Expenditures | U.S. Department of Education (June 28, 2017) | Letter allows an SEA and its LEAs to delay until the 2018-2019 school year ESSA’s requirement to report information on per-pupil expenditures of Federal, State, and local funds on annual report cards. Online at:

Back to top

Other Fact Sheets on ESSA

CPIR offers additional fact sheets on ESSA that may interest you. They are:

Back to top

Authorship | This guide has been produced in a partnership between the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) and The Advocacy Institute under the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs No. H328R130014. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service, or enterprise mentioned herein is intended or should be inferred.

This product is public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this material is not necessary, the citation should be: Center for Parent Information and Resources (retrieval date). Amendments made to IDEA by ESSA (ESSA Fact Sheet), Newark, NJ: Author.

Back to top