Since November 1988, state law has required all public schools receiving state funding to prepare and distribute a SARC. A similar requirement is also contained in the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The purpose of the report card is to provide parents and the community with important information about each public school. A SARC can be an effective way for a school to report on its progress in achieving goals. The public may also use a SARC to evaluate and compare schools on a variety of indicators.
Although there is great variation in the design of school report cards, they generally begin with a profile that provides background information about the school and its students. The profile usually summarizes the school's mission, goals, and accomplishments. State law requires that the SARC contain all of the following:
In addition, NCLB requires that SARCs contain reports concerning the "adequate yearly progress" of students in achieving state academic achievement standards; Title 1 Program Improvement; graduation rates at the secondary level; and, starting with the SARCs to be published in 2004-05, the extent to which "highly qualified" teachers are teaching core academic subjects.