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.
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