For Quality Counts, a Renewed Focus on Value of Data

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This 22nd edition of Quality Counts offers a fresh take on Education Week's annual top-to-bottom ranking of the nation's school systems on a state-by-state basis. The first of three Quality Counts reports being rolled out over the course of the year, "Grading the States" aims to illuminate what the high-performing states did well, how low-performers are approaching improvement, and lessons for boosting the quality of K-12 education overall.

Why three installments throughout the year instead of the single, magazine-style report that Education Week rolled out in 1997? It's a chance to dig more deeply into the data and original analysis that make up these annual grades, which are based on everything from academics to socioeconomic factors affecting student success in school and in later life.

An Evolution

The shift also reflects the evolution of Education Week's approach to presenting in-depth reports on important issues facing American public education. At one time Quality Counts was the only annual report we published. It often served double-duty as a way to spotlight a single issue facing the states—common standards, teacher quality, school district governance—while also grading the states and the nation as a whole.

We now publish nearly a dozen special reports every year, each devoted to a single hot topic in education. That means Quality Counts can now shine on its own with a unique blend of grading and analysis. And spacing out these reports will give readers a better chance to settle in with the data and apply it to the task of improving America's schools.

Coming Up

In addition to this issue's grades and articles, the next two Quality Counts reports will offer more specific detail about the factors behind the annual rankings and what the trends mean for the nation's efforts to boost achievement.

In June, for example, we'll examine school spending and finance, including just how evenly that money is spread within states and the role it plays in educational equity.

And in September—as students head back to school—we'll dig into student achievement data, and use Education Week's trademark "Chance for Success" index to show the lifelong impact of factors like family income, parents' education levels, and preschool access.

We hope this approach encourages you to spend some additional time with this year's Quality Counts coverage, and we look forward to your feedback, either in the comments below, on social media with #QualityCounts, or via a letter to the editor.

Vol. 37, Issue 17, Page 14

Published in Print: January 17, 2018, as For Quality Counts, A Renewed Focus on Value of Data
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