Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quality Counts 2013: State of the States

State and National Grades Issued for Education Performance, Policy;

U.S. Earns a C-plus, Maryland Ranks First for Fifth Straight Year

Grades and Highlights Reports Issued for All 50 States and D.C.

The full Quality Counts 2013 report and interactive state report cards:

State Highlights Reports for the 50 states and the District of Columbia featuring detailed, state-specific data and our comprehensive grading of the states across six categories of educational performance and policy


The annual Quality Counts report card—the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education—chronicles the challenges the nation and many states continue to face in delivering a high-quality education to all students. For 2013, the nation receives a C-plus when graded across the six distinct areas of policy and performance tracked by the report, marking a slight improvement since last year. For the fifth year in a row, Maryland earns honors as the top-ranked state, posting the nation’s highest overall grade, the only B-plus awarded.

Massachusetts ranks second with a B and is followed closely by New York and then by Virginia. These perennial top-performers took the same slots in last year’s rankings. Arkansas rounds out the top five with a grade of B-minus. Kentucky (ranked 10th) joins the top-10 states for the first time this year, while Florida (sixth) regains its top-10 standing after falling from the list in 2012. At the other end of the grading scale, South Dakota for the second year in a row takes the bottom spot, with a grade of D-plus. In all, 20 states receive grades of C or lower, a tally that includes the District of Columbia.

New findings from the report’s annual Chance-for-Success Index—which captures the role of education in a person’s life, from cradle to career—show the country struggling to provide opportunities to succeed and many states lagging far behind the national leaders. The U.S. as a whole receives a C-plus on the index. Massachusetts remains at the top of the national rankings for the sixth year running, earning the only A-minus and followed closely by Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont, each posting grades of B-plus. Mississippi, Nevada, and New Mexico receive the lowest scores, with grades of D-plus or lower. Scores on the Chance-for-Success Index fell one point from last year and remain below pre-recession levels, due in part to continued weakness in conditions that support early schooling success, including family income and parental employment.

Quality Counts 2013 features new results from the EPE Research Center’s annual analysis of school finance, which examines educational expenditure patterns and the distribution of those funds within states. Rather than simply considering raw dollars spent, the Center’s analysis of expenditures examines levels of state spending relative to relevant benchmarks, such as the national average or the total size of a state’s budget. The report’s finance indicators are based on data from 2010, the most recent year available.

The national grade for school finance held nearly constant at a C for 2013, with little change in either of the dimensions of educational finance tracked by Quality Counts—spending and equity. Wyoming, a longtime leader in this category, has gained almost four points since last year and earns the only grade of A awarded for school finance in 2013. West Virginia, which ranks second in the nation, experienced the greatest one-year gain in this category. Due to a large and widely reported increase in per-pupil funding levels, West Virginia’s score climbed more than 11 points in the past year, raising its grade from a C-plus to an A-minus. This year’s top five in school finance is rounded out by Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, with each earning grades of B-plus.

This year’s report also updates progress in the area of transitions and alignment, which tracks state-policy efforts to better coordinate the connections between K-12 schooling and early-childhood education, postsecondary schooling, and the workforce. The nation as a whole earns a B-minus in this category for Quality Counts 2013, up from a C-plus two years ago, when the analysis was last updated. Eight states earn grades of A for transitions and alignment, with Georgia posting the first perfect score in this category for enacting all 14 policies tracked by the report. Overall, 25 states have improved their grades since 2011, with significant policymaking activity seen across all three domains tracked in this section—early childhood, college readiness, and economy and workforce.

The 2013 release of Quality Counts also includes:

_ The Chance-for-Success Index, which grades the nation and states on 13 indicators capturing the critical role that education plays as a person moves from childhood, through the K-12 system, and into college and the workforce.

_ The State of the States Report Card, an annual update of national and state grades in key areas of performance and policy: the Chance-for-Success Index; the K-12 Achievement Index; the Teaching Profession; Standards, Assessments, and Accountability; Transitions and Alignment; and School Finance.

_ State Highlights Reports, individualized online reports featuring state-specific findings from Quality Counts, including our comprehensive state report cards.

_ Interactive Timeline, which charts watershed moments in the history of school violence and safety in the U.S.

_ School-Discipline Database, which allows users to search for federal school-discipline data in thousands of schools and districts nationwide.

All of these resources are available on the Education Week Web site: .

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