Published: January 19, 2007

Stat of the Week — Jan. 18, 2007

The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center's latest edition of Quality Counts expands on the report's traditional focus on state policy. This year's report, From Cradle to Career, focuses on the transitions from early childhood through to life after high school.

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Quality Counts 2007 examines state policies that relate to the alignment of early childhood, K-12 schooling, post secondary education, and employment. The adoption of such policies varies widely across the country. Three states—Colorado, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania—have only one policy out of 15 in place, while another three—Maryland, Michigan, and West Virginia—lead the nation with 12 out of the 15 transition and alignment policies in place. In addition to the top states listed above, New York and Georgia both have 11 of the 15 alignment policies, Arkansas and Tennessee both have 10, and Alabama, Indiana, and Virginia round out the top 10 states with nine policies.

But relative strength in the area of alignment policies does not necessarily translate to top scores in Quality Counts' Chance for Success Index. This index, new for 2007, traces 13 indicators, from a child's family income and parental education, to state achievement on national tests and state graduation rates, to postsecondary participation and employment, revealing the different challenges and opportunities that face children, youth, and young adults in each state.

Chance for Success Scores for States With Most Alignment Policies

*Click image to see the full chart.

States that are strong in both alignment policies and Chance for Success are Virginia, which scored the highest of all states on the Chance for Success Index, with 22 out of a possible 26 points. Maryland, tied for first in number of policies also does well in the index, with 18 points, tying for 5th overall.

Not all of the states with the most alignment policies performed well in the Chance for Success Index, however. Six of the 10 states with the most policies performed below average on the index. Tennessee and Alabama both received -14 points on the index, putting them in a tie for 45th nationally, and 36 points behind Virginia.

Policies are certainly an indication of state activity in a particular area, but it is not surprising that states with a number of policies see such varied results on the Chance for Success Index. Policies can be enacted to codify approaches that seem to be working in a given state, or to make up for deficiencies or challenges that are present.

An analysis of a decade of education policy conducted for Quality Counts 2006 found a slight correlation between number of state policies in standards-based education and achievement gains over 10 years. It remains to be seen what impact these transition and alignment policies will have in the 50 states and District of Columbia, and the EPE Research Center will be examining this issue further in future editions of Quality Counts.

For more information on the Chance for Success Index, read Quality Counts 2007. You can find eleven years of school policy indicators, including the new transition and alignment section, in the EPE Research Center's Education Counts database.

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