Indiana has new tool to give parents data about schools

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Indiana has launched a new online tool that aims to make it easier for parents to access and compare information about their schools, including, for the first time, how much each school spends per student.

INview, which is online now, allows parents to search for schools or districts by area and directly compare up to three—something Indiana Department of Education spokesman Adam Baker said is important for a state that values parent choice.

Once a school is selected, its A-F state grade and federal rating are displayed prominently. Program offerings and after-school activities are also listed, including whether or not before- and after-school care is provided.

Parents can also see data such as how students performed on state tests, how many highly effective teachers the school employs, and how many students were suspended or expelled.

Users will now have more immediate access to how much schools and districts are spending per student, as well as how that figure compares to the state average and other schools with similar demographics. INview also shows what percentage of the district budget is spent on instruction versus operational costs, such as transportation or district administration.

“We talk about that all the time when it comes to funding… How much is a school getting? How much are they paying educators? Where is that money going? And now parents have that opportunity to look at the expenditures,” Baker said.

The approach is a change from the state’s prior portal, Compass, which more prominently displayed the school’s enrollment and offered more historical data. INview instead focuses largely on current data. State reports with historical data will still be available on the department website, Baker said.

The state was required by new federal Every Students Succeeds Act to create a data portal tailored for parents to use, although Baker said Indiana added a few features such as the comparison function. INview will cost the state $690,000 over three years,

Compass will continue to be available and will partially be updated for the foreseeable future, Baker said, as the state transitions to INview.

Chalkbeat is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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