After a one-year hiatus from issuing state grades, the 19th annual edition of Quality Counts—Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown—resumes Education Week’s long-standing tradition of grading the states on their performance. This year, those grades return in a newer, leaner form that focuses on outcomes rather than on policy and processes. A state’s overall grade is the average of its scores on the three separate indices tracked by the report.
This year, Illinois finishes 17th among the 50 states and District of Columbia, with an overall score of 76.1 out of 100 points and a grade of C. The nation as a whole posts a grade of C.
Diving into the findings for the three graded indices, Illinois earns a B-minus in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks 20th. The average state earns a C-plus. In School Finance, Illinois receives a C-plus and ranks 14th, while for the K-12 Achievement Index it finishes 26th with a grade of C-minus. The average state earns grades of C and C-minus in School Finance and K-12 Achievement, respectively.
Quality Counts 2015 also focuses on early-childhood education as its special theme, examining how new academic demands and accountability pressures are altering the learning environment for young children and the educators serving them. For this year’s report, the Education Week Research Center issued state and national grades for a new Early Education Index, which draws on an original analysis of participation in early-education programs, poverty-based gaps in enrollment, and trends over time.
Illinois earns a D-plus and ranks 29th on the Early Education Index, which incorporates data from eight specific indicators. The nation as a whole earns a D-plus.
Illinois’s 2014 Highlights Report includes the state’s full report card, including results for each of the nearly-40 indicators that make up Quality Counts’ overall grading rubric. This year’s State Highlights Report also includes the Early Education Index and a special analysis of data on enrollment in early-childhood programs.