Quality Counts 2014: District Disruption & Revival
Equity in Achievement Remains a Hurdle for States Amid Progress; U.S. Earns C-minus and Massachusetts Ranks First in K-12 Achievement
PDF: Hawaii State Highlights 2014 (Hawaii scores 77.3% Chance for Success)
News Release from Education Week
WASHINGTON—Jan. 9, 2014—Recent years have seen the nation’s schools buffeted by a host of forces, among them the Great Recession and subsequent halting recovery, long-term demographic transformations, a push for higher and more uniform academic standards, increasingly polarized politics on education issues, heightened competition within the public sector, and burgeoning new technologies with the potential to reshape the way instruction is delivered. Yet, schooling remains a highly local affair in this country and public school districts and their leaders are still responsible for serving the vast majority of today’s students.
“There can be little doubt that the environment in which public schools operate is more complex today than ever before. With more pressure to perform and expanded options available to students and their families, business as usual is no longer good enough for local school leaders who must fundamentally rethink how their school systems operate,” said Christopher B. Swanson, Vice President of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. “But whether we will look back on this proliferation of new approaches as a great age of experimentation or a period of confusion, remains very much to be seen.”
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 assessment of American education published by Education Week. On the report’s K-12 Achievement Index, which evaluates overall public school performance, the nation posts lackluster results, with the average state earning a grade of C-minus. Massachusetts earns a B and again emerges as the top-achieving state, a position it has held since the index was first introduced in 2008. Maryland and New Jersey—two other perennial top-scorers—finish second and third with grades of B and B-minus, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, the District of Columbia and Mississippi receive grades of F, and 32 states earn grades in the D to C-minus range. Despite some recent improvements, the index shows that poverty gaps have widened for the nation and most states during the past two years, with that widening most pronounced in the District of Columbia.
New results for the Chance for Success Index—which captures the role of education in a person’s life, from cradle to career—show that the nation has started regaining some ground promoting positive learning experiences for youths and opportunities for adults to capitalize on a good education. This year, the U.S. as a whole receives a C-plus on the index. Massachusetts earns an A-minus and remains at the top of the national rankings for the seventh year running, followed closely by Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and North Dakota, each posting grades of B-plus. Mississippi and New Mexico receive grades of D-plus, while Nevada scores lowest with a D.
Quality Counts 2014 also features new results from the Education Week Research Center’s annual analysis of school finance, which examines educational expenditure patterns and the distribution of those funds within states. The U.S. earns a C for school finance, with the national grade virtually unchanged from a year ago. For the sixth year in a row, Wyoming ranks first and posts an A-minus. At the other end of the rankings, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah receive grades of D, and Idaho scores lowest with a D-minus.
SPECIAL FOCUS ON DISTRICT GOVERNANCE AND REFORM
The 2014 edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report—District Disruption & Revival—delves into the powerful forces that are reshaping traditional school districts and the forms they can take. The report’s journalism and an original national survey of district leaders explore this dynamic environment and provide a first-hand perspective on the range of management challenges and reform options confronting today’s school systems.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Access the full contents of the 2014 edition of Quality Counts, detailed press materials, downloadable state-specific highlights report, and a variety of exclusive online features at www.edweek.org/go/qc14.
Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Bethesda, Md. Its primary mission is to help raise the level of awareness and understanding among professionals and the public of important issues in American education. EPE publishes Education Week, America's newspaper of record for precollegiate education, and covers local, state, national, and international news and issues from preschool through the 12th grade.
The Education Week Research Center conducts annual policy surveys, collects data, and performs analyses that appear in Education Week and its special reports—Quality Counts, Technology Counts, and Diplomas Count. The center also conducts independent research studies and maintains the Education Counts and EdWeek Maps online data resources.