How Do You Go About Calculating Student Success? It's Complicated

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Welcome to the third and final installment of Quality Counts 2018, offering a deeper look at two pillars of our state-by-state ranking of the nation's public schools unveiled in January: the K-12 Achievement Index and the Chance-for-Success Index.

Leave aside the political wrangling—the incessant battles over money, policy, and personnel—that envelop the world of K-12 public education. The ultimate goal of the nation's school system is to assure that students are on a path to academic achievement and equipped with the tools they'll need to succeed in a complex and ever-changing society.

But what's the best way to define progress toward those twin goals? It's a subjective call and one that the Education Week Research Center tackles through a pair of data-driven yardsticks made up of more than 30 indicators that focus on multiple facets of this difficult question.

Twofold Intent

The aim is twofold: to measure student performance and advancement around the country and to show how a host of socioeconomic factors—not just what happens within the K-12 schoolhouse walls—help shape the opportunities for lifelong success state by state.

This year's two previous editions of Quality Counts sketched out broad national trends in comparing the nation's school systems and drilled down into the issue of school finance and how that affects school quality. The capstone report of the year incorporates fresh federal assessment data available since January—with adjustments in some grades and rankings—and offers a deeper exploration of what goes into the K-12 Achievement and Chance-for-Success Indexes.

The report also includes analysis from Education Week reporters on the challenges that researchers and policymakers face in deciding how best to capture the elusive picture of student achievement and what states have learned about the value of initiatives aimed at the early-childhood and postsecondary ends of the education spectrum.

As Education Week continues to update and refine its approach to Quality Counts, now in its 22nd year, the editors look forward to your feedback on this three-part annual approach and changes aimed at keeping the report vital for educators, policymakers, and the public.

Vol. 38, Issue 03, Page 16

Published in Print: September 5, 2018, as Comparing States on Crucial Pillars of School Quality
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