After a one-year hiatus from issuing national and 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. The overall grades for the nation and states are the average of scores on the three separate indices tracked by the report.
This year, the nation earns an overall score of 74.3 out of 100 points and posts a grade of C on the Quality Counts report card. Diving into the findings for the three graded indices, the nation earns its highest mark—a C-plus—on the Chance-for-Success Index. In School Finance, the avearge state receives a C, while for the K-12 Achievement Index the nation posts a C-minus.
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.
The nation as a whole earns a D-plus on the Early Education Index, which incorporates data from eight specific indicators. The District of Columbia ranked at the top of the nation, earning a B-plus, while at the other end of the scale Idaho and Utah both earned grades of F.
The 2014 National Highlights Report includes the nation’s full report card, including results for each of the nearly-40 indicators that make up Quality Counts’ overall grading rubric. This year’s report also includes the Early Education Index and a special analysis of data on enrollment in early-childhood programs.