The “Quality Counts” report issued each year by Education Week is considered a fair and comprehensive assessment of state efforts in education, so we have to applaud Georgia’s 7th place ranking.
Georgia earned a grade of B- or 79.7.
It is a nice change to view a color-coded map of the United States and see Georgia sharing a hue with Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey — three states known for their commitment to and their investment in education.
Georgia earns its highest marks for its standards — which I have to note were put in place under Kathy Cox, who often takes the rap for the math program. Georgia gets an A- for both its standards and school accountability. Under a category called “Transitions and Alignment,” it earns a bona fide A for early childhood education and economy and workforce.
However, Georgia gets an F in its most public of duties — status of k-12 achievement. The state also gets a D- for its spending.
The disparity in our grades raises questions: We have standards that are held up as among the nation’s best by an objective and respected source, yet we have achievement results that are ranked among the nation’s worst. Why?
Where is the disconnect? What are we doing wrong?
Here is the state DOE release:
Georgia ranks 7th in the nation for overall education quality, according to an Education Week report released today. The annual “Quality Counts” report is an investigation of key education outcomes that provides ranks and grades for each state based on their commitment to improve educational policies and practices. This year’s report gave Georgia a grade of B-. Last year, Georgia ranked 8th among all states.
“We are very pleased with the overall marks that Education Week gave Georgia for its commitment to education,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “While there is still plenty of work to do to improve education in Georgia, it’s good to see others recognizing some of the improvements that are happening in our state through the extraordinary work of our students, teachers, and leaders.”
Highlights from the Education Week Report
Areas of Continual Strengths
Ranking 6th and earning a letter grade of B+, Georgia remains a national example of best practices in the area of Transition and Alignment (which addresses the articulations between early childhood education, K-12 education, and postsecondary institutions). Additionally, Georgia remained in the top 10 of all states for the second straight year in the development of a rigorous and appropriate accountability system for teachers, along with providing teachers with incentives for certification and performance and enhancing building-level capacity and support. Finally, Georgia received an A- for our Standards, Assessment, and Accountability policies and programs. Georgia is only one of ten states to have alignment between standards and assessment in the area of Social Studies and is a national leader in portfolio assessments for students.
Areas of Growth
Using the metrics within the “Quality Counts” survey, Georgia saw tremendous growth in a number of student achievement indicators during the 2010-2011 year. In particular, Georgia experienced the 4th largest reduction in the 8th Grade Poverty Gap Closure in mathematics. Additionally, Georgia had the 6th largest scale score gains on the NAEP assessment for 4th grade Reading. Finally, Georgia ranked 4th in the Change in AP Scores category which examines the change in high scores per 100 students between 2000 and 2010. Georgia also ranked 9th in the scores of 3 or higher for each 100 students on the AP tests, cementing Georgia’s reputation as a national leader in AP testing and AP achievement.
Despite the high ranking, Georgia ranks 24th in the overall School Finance Analysis and 38th in the adjustment per-pupil expenditures. This illustrates that while Georgia may not rank highly in the amount it spends per child, our education leaders and teachers are doing an extremely effective job at content delivery and ensuring students have the tools to succeed.
“This report demonstrates that improving education for Georgia’s students is more than evaluating a single test score,” said Superintendent Barge. “We will continue to focus on raising the quality of education so our students are ultimately prepared for college and careers.”
And here is what Ed Week itself released about its report:
Against this backdrop, the nation and many states face continuing challenges in delivering a high-quality education to all students, according to Quality Counts, the annual report card published by Education Week. The nation receives a C when graded across the six distinct areas of policy and performance tracked by the report, the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education. For the fourth year in a row, Maryland earns honors as the top-ranked state, posting the nation’s highest overall grade, a B-plus. Perennial strong finishers Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia follow close behind, each receiving a B. Nearly half the states, however, receive grades of C or lower.
“Dating back at least to the Sputnik era and the Space Race, we’ve been warned that America’s schools do not measure up favorably on an international yardstick,” said Christopher B. Swanson, Vice President of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. “Despite some bright spots over the years, Americans remain rightly concerned that the nation’s pace of improvement is simply too slow, at a time when our global peers and competitors may be rocketing ahead.”
New findings from the report’s annual Chance-for-Success Index 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. For the fifth year running, Massachusetts earns the only A and remains at the top of the national rankings, followed closely by New Hampshire and New Jersey, each posting grades of A-minus.
On the report’s K-12 Achievement Index, which evaluates overall public school performance, the nation again posts lackluster results, with the average state receiving a C-minus. Massachusetts earns a B and emerges as the top-achieving state this year, with New Jersey and Maryland finishing second and third, respectively. A wide gulf separates the leaders from the rest of the pack; three states—Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia receive grades of F on the index.
States post their highest scores for policies related to standards, assessments, and school accountability. The nation earns a B in this year’s report, with 12 states—led by Indiana—receiving an A and nine with an A-minus. This strong showing reflects the legacies of standards-based reforms dating back to the 1990s, the decade-old No Child Left Behind Act, and, more recently, stimulus-era programs and the common-standards movement.
Quality Counts 2012 also features new results for its Teaching Profession category, where the U.S. earns a C. Arkansas and South Carolina each earn a B-plus, the highest grade awarded this year. Scores for the nation and most states have dropped in the past two years, partly due to the economic impacts of the recession. However, the EPE Research Center’s Pay-Parity Index shows that the national pay gap between teachers and other comparable workers has narrowed. Teachers now earn about 94 cents for every dollar earned in similar occupations nationwide.
Quality Counts 2012: The Global Challenge—Education in a Competitive World takes a critical look at the nation’s place among the world’s public education systems, with an eye toward providing policymakers with perspective on effective reform strategies here and abroad that have gained traction and may be replicable. The report also features commentaries penned by educational leaders from around the globe—Byong-man Ahn of South Korea, England’s Sir Michael Barber, Pasi Sahlberg sharing Finland’s lessons, and Margaret Spellings from the United States.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog