To the Editor:
To quote your Quality Counts 2008 special issue, “grading the states” in an objective manner is a formidable task (Jan. 10, 2008). When I read the brief description of the Chance-for-Success Index, it sounded like it could be a worthwhile measure. When I looked at the precise criteria used for the “grade,” however, I was astonished. Simply having the challenge of a greater percentage of poor, non-college-educated, or non-English-speaking parents significantly contributes to the lowest grades?
The only thing worth “grading” is how a state deals with such challenges. A state could have a very low number of families meeting the listed criteria, but still do a poor job overcoming those challenges—and vice versa. And surely you are aware that the percentage of parents “bringing down the grade” in a state is, at best, only partially dependent on past educational quality. (How about immigration? Cost of living?)
I expect Education Week to help educators and the general public distill useful facts and analysis. I hope you will see fit to renew your focus on that goal. In the meantime, congratulations to those states having the fewest educational challenges—without even trying, you’re closer to getting an A.
A version of this article appeared in the February 13, 2008 edition of Education Week as Challenging Quality Counts On What’s Worth Counting