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Originally published November 18, 2009 at 4:16 PM | Page modified November 18, 2009 at 6:16 PM

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Seattle Public Schools report card welcome

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson makes good on that promise with a set of report cards for schools, central-office departments and individual employees. This kind of transparency is welcome in the state's largest school system.

SEATTLE Public Schools promised nearly two years ago clear improvement goals, a method for measuring progress and regular updates to the community.

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson makes good on that promise with a set of report cards — not for students but for schools, central-office departments and individual employees.

This kind of transparency is welcome in the state's largest school system, where the most basic information can be hard to track down and, once found, to understand.

Similar to student report cards, documentation on district efforts ought to lead to a greater sense on the part of the public that they know where the district is headed and how to tell when it arrives.

Parents shouldn't have to be savvy detectives to figure out what makes one school work and another fail. Pockets of information — for example, high-school improvement plans — have always been available but in isolated form rather than as part of the district's overall picture.

The reports won't be available until next fall. But a draft version of the report for the district's overall progress offers sobering news. Of the district's 20 goals for 2013, it is only on track to meet six of them.

More elementary-school students are exceeding standards in math and reading, but widen this snapshot to the entire district and elementary-school achievement is relatively flat.

Middle-school students are improving in math, particularly among high-achieving students. But high-school math performance is flat; in science, performance is low.

The report cards are an integral part of the district's five-year strategic plan. It cannot very well set out goals without a way to meet them and a public process for keeping the public informed.

One glitch: The new system doesn't include teachers. Plans to negotiate with the teachers union on this issue should be a top priority. A look at the district, its departments and its schools without teachers misses a vital component.

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