We Don’t Need No %@# Standards?*

Imagine comparing two school districts’ test scores, where each district uses different tests.  That would be meaningless, right?

Yet, this situation exists on the business side of things. Legislation will require a calculation, but the implementation is unclear.  Subsequent guidelines and regulations (if any) sometimes just cite the statute verbatim. For example, prior to the new funding formula, conversion charter schools were funded on the amount spent at the site in the prior year.  No guidelines existed to determine what central costs, if any, should be allocated in that calculation.

SARCBecause of this lack of clarity, I have just shared my instructions for the preparation of the School Accountability Report Card (SARC).1 This includes comments about the importance of coordinating data with the J-90.2

How to Report Data

In a recent post I called for data consistency.

  • Use the same archived raw data when doing further analysis (e.g. use the same file for district-wide salary data for the J-90 and as well as site by site salary data for the SARC)
  • Use the same method every year, to permit year over year comparisons within the district

There are two other points that I would add to that post, which is

  • Coordinate between departments so that an inquirer doesn’t get a different answer, depending on who they ask
  • Share methods so districts can choose how they want to arrive at consistency for state-wide comparisons. This is one of the purposes of this blog.


* The line references “We don’t need no badges” and goes back to the book and film Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  It was later used by Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, where the line was changed to “We don’t need no stinking badges”

1School by School Comparisons: The School Accountability Report Card provides school level information on student test scores, student demographic data, teacher information, and expenditures by student as well as average teacher cost.  School level expenditures and teacher costs are compared with the district average. The state provides the average teacher salary information, however it draws its data from the district’s previously-submitted J-90.  Coordination is therefore required between those who prepare the SARC and those who prepare the J-90.

2Salary Comparisons: The J-90 is a report that asks for salary information from each district.  The resulting data files are available for download on the California Department of Education’s web site.


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