While still big on inputs and spending to rank states (giving New York inflated scores over Florida despite achievement gains of the latter over the former) Education Week’s Quality Counts is a welcome and informative tool in the area of student achievement. If you break out the results from the inputs, the story of American education progress is clear — states that are innovators and have created and sustained structures that challenge the status quo do better with students who are behind and improve schooling for all as a result.
Given the passage of the Student Success Act (NCLB’s Successor) just signed into law, the 20th Annual Quality Counts appropriately focuses on accountability as its theme. Education Week’s research team looked at trends on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, over the time NCLB helped set the tone for state accountability from 2003-2015.
While the research and corresponding reports are well-summarized on the site and don’t require additional summary, here are a few key takeaways for reformers:
1) States are graded in three large categories, comprised of 39 indicators, and while less weight is put on state inputs as in past years (parent’s income, educational level and property taxes), these indicators still play a major role in how states score.
2) States like Vermont and Maryland, which consistently score at the top of the rankings have more to do with the inputs (money) than achievement gains those states make with students. Indeed Maryland’s educational standing is often misquoted by its leadership and the press, giving credit to schools for having advantaged families with all the educational support that permits, as opposed to making progress.
3) The District of Columbia was ranked 28th overall but its K-12 achievement gains and progress