This week marks the publication of the 17th edition of Education Week's Quality Counts report. Ever year, the report grades the states based on how their education policies succeeded – or failed – in improving their students' performance on key academic indicators.
This year, EdWeek introduces a new element by supplying letter grades in addition to the numerical scores, making it easier to judge their performance in the three of the areas the publication tracks year-to-year.
The 2013 edition also features an updated formula for the Chance-for-Success Index – designed by EPE Research Center, and a new look at various funding and finance initiatives undertaken by the state, and the impact they're having on student academic outcomes.
In addition to the evaluations of performance within those individual categories, readers will find overall, summative letter grades and scores for the nation and the states. Those grades incorporate the most recent information available across each of the six categories that make up the full Quality Counts report card. Each category carries equal weight when calculating the summative scores.
According to EdWeek, the states making the top ten this year are mostly the same ones who earned the honor the year before. Maryland once again tops the list, earning a 87.5 numerical score and a grade of B+. Massachusetts – scoring a B with 84.1 – follows only 7 points behind. New York, Virginia and Arkansas round out the top five. There was one significant change recorded, however, reports Amy M. Hightower, who recaps the report for EdWeek readers and subscribers. Kentucky makes it into the top ten for the first time, with Florida – which finds itself in 6th place and earning a B- – recapturing its top-10 position after falling into 11th place last year.
At the other end of the rankings, South Dakota was awarded a grade of D-plus. A majority of states fell near the middle of the grading curve, with 38 states earning grades between a C-minus and a C-plus. The United States as a whole gained a half-point from last year, bringing the national grade up to a C-plus, from a C.
The Chance-for-Success Index forms the centerpiece of the report, showing how well each state has done in linking academic achievement and future economic success. EdWeek uses 13 individual indicators to arrive at the final score, taking samples from every period of a students' lives from early childhood through the rest of their academic careers and even looking beyond graduation at their success once their enter the workforce.
This time it is Massachusetts that comes out on top – as it has five times before – earning an overall grade of A-.
Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont each receive a B-plus. Those states have collectively been the nation's top scorers since the index was introduced in 2007. By contrast, two states—Nevada and New Mexico—each receive grades of D, placing their results roughly on par with past performance.