Public schools throughout California must provide information about themselves to the community through an annual SARC. These report cards provide a variety of data to allow the public to evaluate and compare schools in terms of student achievement, environment, resources, and demographics.
Why is there a SARC?
In November 1988, California voters passed Proposition 98. This ballot initiative provided California's public schools with a stable funding source. In return, all public schools in California are required to prepare and disseminate information about themselves to the public through a SARC. In the years since the passage of Proposition 98, additional requirements were established through legislation culminating in SB1632, authored by Senators Poochigian, Hayden, and Alpert and signed into law by Governor Davis in September 2000.
Schools with enrollment reported in the California Basic Educational Data System must report a SARC annually. The reports are prepared with at least two major purposes in mind:
- Answering important questions about the school
- Communicating how successful the school has been in meeting its goals
What information does the SARC contain?
A number of different kinds of information are displayed in the report card. To make sense of this information, the report card is organized around several categories of data. School report cards generally begin with a school profile that provides background information about the school and its students. The profile also presents the district mission and the school's goals-goals that school administrators, staff, and parents have specifically set for the school. Parents and other members of the public may want to judge the rest of the report card by how well they feel the school is meeting its own goals and how good a job the school is doing.
By law, the report must also address the following nine major areas:
- demographic information
- school safety and climate for learning
- academic data
- school completion
- class size
- teacher and staff information
- curriculum and instruction
- post-secondary preparation (secondary only)
- fiscal and expenditure data
How can you obtain a SARC?
State law requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to maintain a centralized set of links to local Web sites to facilitate public access to SARCs throughout the state and also requires local educational agencies to provide accurate links to the CDE for this purpose. Access may be obtained via the CDE's SARC Web page at the following address: http://sarconline.org/
If you are a parent of a child attending a public school in California, you should receive notice from your child's school regarding how to access a SARC via the Internet and also how to obtain a paper copy for your personal use upon your request. If many students in your school speak a language other than English, the report card may be translated into that language. Check with your school on the availability of translated report cards.
How can you find out more about California schools?
If you have more questions about a specific school, you can call or write to the school or the district office. Or you may want to set up an appointment to visit the school in person. The personnel working in local schools have much additional information that is not available in the SARC, and they may also be able to provide context for interpreting the report, and they will be happy to answer your questions. We hope the report cards facilitate greater community knowledge about the public schools and especially that they encourage and empower parents to become more involved in their children's education.