Quality Counts: Georgia ranks 7th and earns a first-time ever perfect score in one area

Education Week released its “Quality Counts” report today, and Georgia ranked 7th in the comprehensive rating system for the second year in a row and also became the first state to earn a perfect score in the category of transitions and alignment, which examines early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness

Maryland earned first place followed, in order, by Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky, Connecticut, Vermont and Ohio.. All those earned a grade of B-minus or higher. The rest of the states fell in the C-minus to C-plus range except for South Dakota, which earned a D plus. (Go here for an interactive map.)

Because the Education Week rankings are untainted by any political or philosophical underpinnings, they are taken more seriously than some other rankings. They are largely a data-driven measurement but they do look at a wide range of indicators.

For other rankings released this week, see earlier post this morning on the StudentsFirst state report cards based on education policies. The two sets of rankings are already drawing comparisons.

“This year’s Quality Counts rankings offer further proof that focusing on collaborative, evidence-based strategies; teaching over testing; and investing in rather than destabilizing public schools is essential to helping all children learn, grow and succeed in life. That’s what the top-ranked states — Maryland and Massachusetts — and the nations that lead the world in student achievement focus on, and it’s what we should be building on,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

“These rankings also stand in sharp contrast to StudentsFirst rankings, which prioritized politics and ideology over improved teaching and learning—giving the top-ranked state of Maryland a D+ for failing to embrace the StudentsFirst agenda of testing, sanctioning teachers and divesting from public schools,” she said.

Here is what Ed Week said about its 2013 rankings:

Quality Counts 2013 continues the EPE Research Center’s annual practice of ranking the states on a range of key education indicators—with detailed tracking for each of the three categories updated in this year’s report—and of awarding summative letter grades and scores for the states and for the nation as a whole across all six categories that make up the report’s grading framework.

This year, the report updates Quality Counts’ signature Chance-for-Success Index, which looks at the connection between education and beneficial outcomes at each stage of a person’s life; school finance indicators, which capture the level and equitability of school funding; and transitions and alignment, examining how states work to coordinate K-12 schooling and other aspects of their education systems at various stages of a student’s career.

Three additional categories—k-12 achievement; standards, assessments, and accountability; and the teaching profession—were updated in the 2012 edition.

Maryland, for the fifth consecutive year, receives the top grade in the nation, with a B-plus. In second place is Massachusetts, with a B, followed closely by New York state and then by Virginia. (All four states took the same slots in Quality Counts 2012 and have consistently ranked high in past reports.) Joining the top-10 list for the first time is Kentucky, which earns a B-minus.

At the other end of scale, South Dakota for the second year in a row takes the bottom spot, with a grade of D-plus. The nation as a whole receives a score of C-plus—joining 19 states in that tier. Overall, a large majority of states—37, plus the District of Columbia—receive grades ranging from C-minus to C-plus in this year’s report.

Even with most states clustered in the middle tiers of the grading scale, performance in certain categories included notable standouts:

• Massachusetts captures the top ranking in the Chance-for-Success Index for the sixth year in a row, earning an A-minus.

• In the category of transitions and alignment—which puts a particular focus on early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness—Georgia becomes the first state to earn a perfect score for these policies.

• In the school finance category, West Virginia leaps to second in the nation, with an A-minus, up from 14th place last year. Wyoming once again tops the list in that category, receiving the only grade of A.

Here is statement from the Department of Education on the report:

Georgia is leading the nation in connecting its K-12 education system with early learning, higher education and the world of work, according to an Education Week report released today.

The state was the first ever in the country to score a 100 in the “transitions and alignment” category on the annual “Quality Counts” report.

Georgia jumped from sixth in the nation to first in the “transitions and alignment” category, moving from a B+ to an A and becoming one of just eight states to score an A in this section. The national average was a C+.

Georgia’s score comes from the state enacting the 14 policies examined by Education Week, including curriculum alignment from prekindergarten through college and programs to help students not meeting school-readiness benchmarks.

The 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.

“We are very pleased that Education Week recognizes the hard work and collaboration that’s been happening among the education agency chiefs in Georgia,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “Early education, K-12 education and higher education are all inextricably linked. The success of our state depends on all of us partnering to make education work for all Georgians.”

Gov. Nathan Deal added, “Georgia’s ranking in this new report is very encouraging. This is recognition that we have put the right policies into place and that our educators, across the pre-school to college pipeline, are working hard to execute them.”

That work started with the Alliance for Education Agency Heads, which is composed of Georgia government agencies and departments: the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, the Georgia Department of Education, the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the Georgia Student Finance Commission and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. The group has been working since 2005 to create a smooth education pipeline from preschool through college and to unite the education community in Georgia.

In the report, Georgia also held its ranking as seventh in the nation in overall education quality for the second year in a row. The state received a B-, or 81 percent, on the national report card, compared to the national average of C+, or 76.9 percent.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

49 comments Add your comment

Pride and Joy

January 10th, 2013
10:33 am

This is amazing Georgia earned”a perfect score in the category of transitions and alignment, which examines early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness…”
YET, only 67% of GA students graduate from high school.
So, unless “career readiness” means a student is qualified to use a shovel to dig a hole, I sure wouldn’t be celebrating that GA’s children are “college and career ready.”

Parent Too

January 10th, 2013
10:39 am

Why did we receive a 57% in spending? The rest of the report is unremarkable.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

January 10th, 2013
10:44 am

Much like the terms “excellence” and “rigor,” Quality is another defined term. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-quality-learning-may-be-the-last-thing-you-want-for-your-child/ explains what the term actually means in Ed world rhetoric.

Georgia is being rewarded for the fidelity with which they are moving away from the traditional transmission of knowledge, subject matter approach to the change the student’s values, attitudes, and beliefs approach that used to be known as Outcomes Based Education. Standards0based instruction and Competency are just new euphemisms for these old theories.

Because the lottery funds so much of Georgia’s higher ed system, Georgia originated the concept of P-16. Years of the student being a vehicle for adult livelihoods is not a good approach for a strong K-12 system. It’s not what brings the lucrative warm bodies to the USG campuses.

Sorry but that’s the economic reality.


January 10th, 2013
11:27 am

Parent Too- we got a 57% because funding of schools falls mainly on local communities and the state ’s portion is ever shrinking. Poorer counties continue to struggle with this funding model.


January 10th, 2013
11:33 am

Actually, PaJ…. That 67% rate is how many complete high school in the traditional 4-year model. We have more students graduating, but they don’t count unless they do it in 4 years. I’m not defending the 67% rate, I think it needs to be improved, but frankly, if we are going to be going by graduation rates, I foresee schools graduating students who are unprepared rather than holding them back and making them take the 5th or 6th year and making sure they are ready to leave high school.

Michael Moore

January 10th, 2013
11:58 am

Let’s be honest about EducationWeek: From their funders’ page: “portions of our work are underwritten by the Atlantic Philanthropies, the California Endowment, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the GE Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the MetLife Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and an anonymous funder. I am seriously questioning this statement on the blog: “Because the Education Week rankings are untainted by any political or philosophical underpinnings, they are taken more seriously than some other rankings.”
I am also questioning Georgia’s Rank and grades. Even though we only graduate 58% of our students, we scored an A- on standards, assessment and accountability. (Sarcasm intended)


January 10th, 2013
12:18 pm

We all know there is NO way Georgia could possibly earn an honest 7th place in this category, or any category of achievement.

bootney farnsworth

January 10th, 2013
12:29 pm

I’m suspicious. seems a bit too good to be true

HS Math Teacher

January 10th, 2013
12:33 pm

I can hear all the “high five” claps and back-slaps from Atlanta.


January 10th, 2013
12:39 pm

Rankings are always relative. A 5′ tall person could be the tallest person in the room. Georgia could be 7th.


January 10th, 2013
1:23 pm

Intuition and reading some of the above posts tells me this report (like so many) probably doesn’t measure meaningful information – but it sure is better to be near the top than the bottom in any and all such reports.

Pretentious people named mathmom

January 10th, 2013
1:29 pm

Great report for Georgia. Say it however you want the state really does a good job with what they have to work with. The rich kids go to private schools where not doing work gets you kiced out of school. Public school can’t kick out kids that simply want try and yet the teacher is expected to still get them to work. Plus we have one of the highest percentages for the a very low scoring sub-group (African Americans) versus all states not in the deep South and still scored 7th in the nation!!! Let New Hampshire and Massachusettes have 30% within that subgroup rather than white middle class kids and I bet we whip their danged socks off.

Beatings will continue until morale improves

January 10th, 2013
1:31 pm

All this in the Same week Michelle Rhee slams us…



January 10th, 2013
1:33 pm

Those folks need to come visit APS….there will be a high ranking for sure: The “Rankest” system around! (Probably a first place finish)

living in an outdated ed system

January 10th, 2013
1:44 pm

I don’t put much weight in the Ed Week report either. How can we score so highly when we rank near the bottom on graduation rates and other measures of achievement? Utter nonsense!

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
2:07 pm

Interesting how you can get a perfect score when many children do not have eyeglasses and many classrooms have little resources (i.e. books). And consumable workbooks? Teacher gets a box of 25 for 110 students, fairly standard arrangement.


January 10th, 2013
2:10 pm

@living in an outdated ed system- Did you not read d’s post. The graduation rate is based on if students graduate in within 4 years. If they graduate any year later they are counted as failing.

HS Public Teacher

January 10th, 2013
2:10 pm

Please let’s all be clear on what this ranks and what it does not rank.

It ranks how the ’standards and policies’ align. In other words, how subject matter content matches between the classroom and the State ’standards and policies.’

It does not rank how good these standards might be.

It does not rank how well the standards are implemented inside of the classroom.

It does not rank anything about students or their learning at all.

It does not rank anything about teachers or their teaching at all.

living in an outdated ed system

January 10th, 2013
2:14 pm

like I said, the report is utter nonsense and does the opposite disservice, which is to make our state’s education system look more successful than it really is.


January 10th, 2013
2:17 pm

I will get a copy and read the full report but above it says, “… Georgia becomes the first state to earn a perfect score for these policies.” It is one thing to have great policies. The question is how well are they implemented.

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
2:29 pm

The propaganda method “lying by omission” comes to mind. Who stands to gain by taking some niche thing and making an “award” out of it. What’s the deal with this “award culture” in education. Do you they give an award when the workers bolt the wheels on at the car factory? Why is an “award” needed over some basic expected functionality?

Anyway, the main deal here is who has the power. Who has the power to set the agenda, to make the bandwidth, “who has the power” also known as “politics.” Weird how there is no teacher voice to be heard anywhere from these Duncan / Gates / Carnegie initiatives.

Inman Parker

January 10th, 2013
2:44 pm

Bravo HS Public School Teacher, you pointed that this ranking is basically a ranking of….nothing.


January 10th, 2013
2:44 pm

re:”untainted by any political or philosophical underpinnings” — yeah, right. That’s about as common, or realistic, as a unicorn sighting.

I suppose what this illustrates is the difference between policies and results.

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
2:46 pm

Sometimes it seems like a king or queen sits on a throne up high in Georgia and makes proclamations. So they have “aligned” their dictates? Again and again, where’s the supply materials? Where is the cogent rational thorough equally applicable support materials to teach these “standards” common core or otherwise? Standards: “We shall all eat pears today and apples tomorrow.” Meanwhile there is no fruit truck and teacher has to make a midnight run to WalMart to use their own money to buy pears and apples. And I’m talking three times a week, that midnight run to WalMart or Fed-Ex Kinko’s for photo-copies or stay after school and wait in line at the one photocopier for the entire building. Or go home and sleep from 6pm to midnight and then get up and spend three hours authoring a presentation (some in the United States call it a “power point” which is a proprietary term owned by Microsoft) combined with activity design and materials.

Hey Ed Week, you ever teach 110 kids for a full year in a core subject without textbooks? You ought to try it some time, with 20% of the kids needing / not having eyeglasses. And then The Great Evaluator parks themselves in a chair and makes judgement of you. Example: 2 students were off task and 1 was sleeping. Medium review. Almost unsatisfactory. Please explain in the space allotted below.

Tammy was sick and needed to put her head down and was being accommodated.

Don’t forget: 30 minutes to an hour after school each day making telephone calls to the homes. Required. You assigned children to write citations of book sources? That’s requiring too much of the students. Back off. You had a 100% pass rate for all students on CRCT test? You don’t exist. The only person who can be recognised for that is the lady featured in the media who started her own charter school, whereas you require teaching remediation – sign here.

Here’s my opinion of teaching in Georgia: Don’t do it. At least not in one of these corrupted districts. and whatever you do, don’t move to work in one of these districts and buy a house and think you have a career, unless you like being harassed and flirting with bankruptcy. It’s okay, though. You know the principal who was a little cold and who dutifully delivered all of that propaganda? There head is on the chopping block, too. Just a difference of timing. By the way, is anyone keeping track of the numeric data on staff movement and turn-over in Georgia K-12 government schools? It would be valuable information for someone before applying their good work to a school district. Not much sense in extending trust is they move half the staff around every year and principals average 2 years at a school. This would be useful data for workers.

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
2:57 pm

Whoever thinks high performing teachers in Georgia government K-12 schools will ever receive recognition or merit pay in Georgia is way Way WAY off the mark. The very second they did that it would be extending some “power” is the direction of a teacher, and they won’t do it under any circumstances, not based solely on scores without the political appointment / approval / curtsey routine. It would instantly threaten a thousand people who are used to having it their way, making proclamations about teachers but would never think of getting their nose near one, aside from a ten minute visit that makes everybody in the building nervous. Well, except for the “board of education” member who likes to come to the school, politic with the principal, and hang around the teacher’s door. The principal later finds out that this is of absolutely no benefit to them, quite the opposite.

Georgia Coach

January 10th, 2013
3:11 pm

Private Citizen, in the words of the great Lewis Grizzard, “Delta is ready when you are.”


January 10th, 2013
3:51 pm

HS Public Teacher..”It does not rank anything about students or their learning at all.” ETC ETC

Keep on saying it , it may penetrate the thick skulls of those ‘peons ‘ dictating these idiotic directives !!

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
3:53 pm

Ah yes, Georgia Coach, and because I know you are not a hypocrite, I also know that you know the way to the airport. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps I was in Georgia well before you were, if this is the game you wish to play? Although I have a little more originally and class than to pull the low routine that you are attempting on me. What are you defending, I wonder? And why are you compelled to do so? Is it your own ego that you resort to such gamesmanship and actually wish to screw around with another human being with such tackiness? That’s not how I do it. I’m trying to think of some way for this exchange to benefit you. They say travel is the best remedy for bigotry. I think you should try it. Have you been to Mexico City? They have substantial architecture there. You might even learn something and from experience, no one there will tell you about your duty to leave when you talk to them. Be careful though, it is pretty standard to embed broken glass in the mortar on top of walls surrounding homes there. Let’s play a little game, Georgia Coach, when was the last time you travelled outside of the United States on your own dime? And why should I extend the least credit to your opinion? Your user name is rather outrageous as you have awarded yourself both the entire state as well as the field of athletics. I was taught not to generalise. I wonder if this is on a “standard” anywhere. It should be, as it is one of the basis of research.

Coach, have you invented anything? have you manufactured anything? have you innovated anything at all whatsoever? have you improved your city, state, or country, or world? Do you have a mission? Are you a motivational artist? That’s what I think of when I think of the term “coach.” what are you about? You’ve post maybe 50 words in the last month and half of them have been taking pot shots at me. Maybe you should vary the program a little and do a number on Bootney or Astropig and Southwest Airlines or KLM. http://images.businessweek.com/ss/10/01/0125_mexico_city_hottest_buildings/1.htm

PS Georgia Coach, you know how to buy the ticket to Mexico City. I’ve done it. You should, too.

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
4:12 pm

oh no you didn’t. did he just pull the architecture card on me?

Hey Georgia Coach, Do you remember when the Hyatt was built and was the tallest building on the Atlanta skyline? http://www.atlantatimemachine.com/downtown/polaris.htm

Just Sayin.....

January 10th, 2013
4:15 pm

YET, only 67% of GA students graduate from high school.

And this is GA’s fault… how? Hint: it is not. It might be the parents fault. It might be the student’s fault. It is not the State of Georgia’s fault. 30% dropped out of my graduating High School class, too. But it was the failing/disinterested student’s fault… along with his parent(s)… and not the fault of my teachers or my school. It is no way affected MY HS experience or ability to derive enough from my HS to sail through college.


January 10th, 2013
6:21 pm

No Midwest or Western states? What about Texas?

Frank Stuff

January 10th, 2013
6:52 pm

As much as some would like you to believe, the graduation rate does not matter for comparative purposes even when considering new revisions across the country for calculating the graduation rate.

For example, it’s more challenging for a student to graduate from high school in GA than CA based on the required credits a student must receive. GA ranks among the most difficult in the United States to attain a diploma.

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
7:29 pm

Dear Georgia teacher, Feeling a little pressured? Scholastic makes it easy for each of you to spend your own money on source materials, just like dollar store, or the dollar menu at McDonald’s. http://teacherexpress.scholastic.com/subject/math/multiplication/an-array-away-understanding-the-commutative-property-scholastic-success-with-multiplication-grade-5

Private Citizen

January 10th, 2013
7:31 pm

catlady, east of the Pecos or west of the Pecos?


January 10th, 2013
7:36 pm

Schools in Georgia are lousy mainly because of teachers unions and the city of Atlanta which drags statewide scores down.The Atlanta School system is known for it’s corruption and cheating on tests.

The other reason Atlanta’s school system is horrible are the large amount of people south of I-20 that have absent fathers and live in grinding poverty. The father’s are irresponsible and abandon their children. It’s that simple.

Why even debate the topic. Parents need to stay married.

Jerry Eads

January 10th, 2013
8:13 pm

Um, don’t wanna spoil the party, but you might take a look into the Bracey archives on the edweek rankings. Just because they’re “data-driven” rankings doesn’t mean they’re derived from good data. The acronym we use in my business is “GIGO” – - garbage in, garbage out. Back when I had to respond to their requests, they would even cobble together stuff when we didn’t have the resources to supply it. Hopefully that’s changed, but I’d tread cautiously here.


January 10th, 2013
8:23 pm

Bill, Georgia does not have unions, most of the schools are doing a pretty good job, 94% of kids in Georgia go to public schools.
Private citizen, I am sorry your work experience is so bad. It seems to be time to retire.


January 10th, 2013
8:38 pm

Maybe this will stop Republicans from trying to eat their own, once a shark or two starts circling. Dr. Barge is good for all the children in Atlanta. He could do even more for GA if we would just let him do his job.

alpharetta mom

January 10th, 2013
9:03 pm

So interesting – Michelles Rhees “scorecard” gets trotted around town for legislators comments. This one is blogged. Wouldn’t you think that if Dr. Barge had any pull with the media this report would have been all over the media (AJC main pages) like it is in Virginia (by the Governor) and Florida (by the Miami Herald)? It’s all smoke and mirrors. Perception is reality and we’re being sold the “failing school ” story. Just in time for the next legislative session. Oh goodie.


January 10th, 2013
9:16 pm

January 10th, 2013
7:36 pm

What teacher’s unions do you speak of? How have they degraded the school system? Please be specific.


January 10th, 2013
9:23 pm

Oh boy . . . the “world of work.” Can’t wait for more of it.


January 10th, 2013
9:24 pm

How did the Pilgrims ever live without educational rankings?

Taxpayer and Teacher

January 10th, 2013
10:01 pm

Yeah right! Whatever. We all know better.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
2:13 am

Bill Schools in Georgia are lousy mainly because of teachers unions

I’m just curious. Do you recall where you got this idea? Did you get it because they keep repeating it over and over on FoxNews or Rush Limbaugh on the talk radio and there is no other type of talk radio?

Not to correct you, but be informed that worker unions are legally prohibited in Georgia. You’ve been getting misinformation. Weird though, how you start off with your lead sentence. Do you recall where you informed in this way re: teacher unions / Georgia?

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
2:23 am

AnnieAD, I resigned, not retired. Someone harasses you enough, you think you’ll tough it through but it doesn’t work that way. Point is, school district management is really inconsistent, and there is just very little governance over the managers of these school districts. Georgia has a real and serious lack of governance over school district management, which is the more crazy when you think of the power the school districts have over the property owners and tax base. Homeowners paying $3k year is property taxes so a school system can pose as walled off royalty living by royalty-press-release proclamations while doing all of this amateur hour promoting of their own cliche and savaging anyone who sees through them? They’re like organised crime, mafia with thugs and the big poser thug (superintendent) at top. I mean, look what that jerk Erroll did marching people ot of the workplace. And no one governs it. There is no rule book that needs to be followed. It is entirely by chance? One district could be governed reasonably, and another be a gang of crooks. And in place of law, state level government subcontracts out the duty of governing to a private organization. Well the SACS set-up might work for university. I think it is inadequate for K-12.

It’s not good to have a commitment to kids and K12 education, and then feel like you’re working with a bunch of crooks and go-along-to-get-along teachers who go along with the crooks at every turn.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
2:34 am

Dear New Teachers in Georgia: There are no worker protections for you. When you finish teaching college and get a job, find a private attorney and keep them on standby. The professional organiations do nothing to protect workers. Like the north Georgia teacher lady who went on vacation and lady posted on her private Facebook page a picture of herself at a festival holding up a beer stein. She was fired for this. Or what about master teacher who moves here from out of state and after buying a home and five years of teaching, the whole school building is told to “re-apply for their jobs.” Or what about the crooked principal who stopped being a principal after a scandal, but is so connected that now they are paid $100k/year to go around and harass teachers, come into your classroom with a wireless laptop and write arbitrary reports on teachers, like roving “quality control” using the “Danielson Framework” to “evaluate” / undermine except that their crooked and have a fake job and are doing harassment outside of the standard methods. Anyway, have an attorney on standby if you work in a corrupted district in Georgia.

AnnieAD, You’re not “sorry” about anything. If you “were” you would demand an end to the “AdvanceED” / “SACS” fake governance of school districts and you would tell the state to do their job and earn their pay and govern their school districts. I do not accept your “I’m sorry that.” No thanks! I’ll get it real and not leave a passive legacy so the crooks can mess with people, like I see them doing with my friends now. Hey Annie, Crooks are crooks and Georgia must be heaven for crooks in school management because there is very little to stop them from exploiting districts.

Private Citizen

January 11th, 2013
2:53 am

hey Annie something tells me your kids have eyeglasses. Are you also “sorry” about the Georgia school children who do not have eyeglasses, and maybe they should retire to a chair in the front of the room to they can see the projector screen, or “retire” to the couch so they can hold a book in front of their nose and try and stop the headaches?


January 11th, 2013
9:03 am

it seems to me that nearly all comments on this blog are negative and fail to acknowledge the positive gains in Georgia education. Rather than “bashing” this score, we should be celebrating the work and using it as a springboard for continual change. Lets support the teachers and administrators who are the backbone for a #7 ranking.

HoneyFern School

January 13th, 2013
8:45 am

Kids in Georgia schoosl have a 73% chance of success, according to this report. How could we possibly be happy about that statistic?

All of the “good” scores are in political categories that have nothing to do with helping kids discover their full potential.