How grading works
Our administrators maintain a database of links to documents and reports for more than 700 different government entities. They also keep track of what format each of those resources is presented in, whether it is a scanned document, embedded text, an HTML page, or a more fully featured online database. The NCTransparency.com system then calculates on overall score for each entity based on what resources they make available.
We keep track of different types of resources
We determined that there are 24 important baseline documents or reports that, at the least, should be available to citizens and taxpayers. Some of these apply to all government entities and others only to certain types of government entities. For example, many reports considered important for a school system to publish online are not applicable to cities or counties. Additionally, some reports are more important to have available than others. Our system allows us to specify the relative worth of each resource for each type of government entity.
Below is a chart showing each resource we track, and how many points each one is worth:
|County||Municipality||School System||State Board of Education||State Government|
|% of Students in AP or IB courses||-||-||5||-||-|
|Annual Financial Information Report||10||10||-||-||-|
|Capital Improvement Plan||10||10||5||-||10|
|Comprehensive Annual Financial Report||10||10||-||-||10|
|EVAAS (individual teacher performance)||-||-||5||-||-|
|Free and reduced lunch audits and reports||-||-||5||-||-|
|Future liability for retirees||5||5||5||-||5|
|Number of employees||5||5||10||-||5|
|Salaries of employees by job code||5||5||5||-||5|
|Salaries of employees earning $50,000 or more||5||5||10||-||5|
|SAT and ACT scores||-||-||10||-||-|
|School transit spending and needs||-||-||10||-||-|
|State Health Plan expenses / revenues||-||-||10||-||10|
|Transportation Improvement Plan||-||-||-||-||-|
Some items are marked with a "-". This means the resource is not applicable for that type of entity. Entities are not penalized for missing those resources.
Each entity gets an overall score
In order make a meaningful comparison between two entities we calculate an overall score based on the resources they have available. This score calculation follows a simple formula:
(Total points / Total possible points) * 100 = Overall score
Let's say our Example County provides a Budget (10), the number of employees (5), and a Checkbook (10). Their total points add up to 25 making an overall score of:
(25 / 100) * 100 = 25
Not all resources are created equal
We recognize that there is a big difference between an online resource that is easy to use and an online resource that not so easy to use. This is why we also keep track of what format any given resource is in. Less useful formats are worth a smaller percentage of the total possible score:
- Online database 100%
- HTML 75%
- Embedded Text 50%
- Scan 25%
A webpage (HTML) with a County's Annual Financial Information Report would contribute 7.5 points to an entity's score while a scanned image of a document would only be worth 2.5 points.
Our grading criteria
We convert the overall score into a letter grade which we display on the website. Our grading criteria is:
Based on this, our Example County above would get a C for having 25 total points.
How can my entity's grade be improved?
City, county, state and school officials can improve the grades of their governmental entities by adding the resources that are currently shown as unavailable online. Likewise, any citizen who notices that we have left out resources that are available online is invited to contact us as well. We will add the new resource to our database and scores will update automatically.
Just send the link and a brief description to us via our contact page.