Use of School Report Card to Promote Accountability in Brazil
There have been attempts to generate and disseminate information to improve quality of service provision in developing countries. Perhaps one of the most concrete and clear examples of a large-scale information-for-accountability intervention in education in a developing country is in the Brazilian state of Parana, which experimented with school reform card between 1999 and 2002. The stated goals of the initiative were to increase parental knowledge about the quality of instruction in schools and to raise parents’ voice in school matters at the school council and state levels. The initiative also aimed to increase awareness among school personnel about their schools’ instructional quality and academic performance. The report card combined the following school data:
- Test-based performance (4th and 8th grade test scores)
- Student flows (promotion, retention and dropout rates)
- School characteristics (average class size and teachers’ qualifications)
- Parental opinion and satisfaction with several aspects of the school (facilities, security, teaching practices, quality of education, and parental involvement)
- Parental opinion on the availability of information on school performance and activities
The card also contained comparative municipal and state averages for most of the key indicators so that parents and teachers could compare the performance of their schools with that of neighboring schools. This relatively simple, three-page summary of indicators was disseminated to parents and teachers through various local level workshops. Results were published in the state education secretariat’s monthly newsletter and widely disseminated through press releases and press conferences.
While no rigorous evaluations of this experiment exist, anecdotal evidence suggests positive results. Parents engaged in discussions with teachers about how they might improve school performance and, through school councils, increased their voice in policy debates about education. The report cards acted as a management tool at the school level and as a driver of wider education reform.
See: Burns, B., Filmer, Deon & Patrinos, Harry Anthony (2011). Making Schools Work: New Evidence on Accountability Reforms. Washington DC: The World Bank.