Quality Counts 2017: Building on ESSA's K-12 Foundation Measured Progress

Montana Earns a C on State Report Card, Ranks 23rd in Nation

An Education Week State Highlight Report

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The 21st annual edition of Quality Counts—Under Construction: Building on ESSA’s K-12 Foundation—continues Education Week’s long-standing tradition of grading the states on their performance. A state’s overall grade is the average of its scores on the three separate indices tracked by the report.

State Overview

This year, Montana finishes 23rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an overall score of 74.1 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, Montana earns a C-plus in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks 25th. The average state earns a C-plus. In School Finance, Montana receives a C and ranks 24th. For the K-12 Achievement Index, last updated in the 2016 report, it finishes 28th with a grade of C-minus. The average state earns grades of C and C-minus in School Finance and K-12 Achievement, respectively. More details on results in these categories are reported below.

Chance for Success

The Education Week Research Center developed the Chance-for-Success Index to better understand the role that education plays in promoting positive outcomes across an individual’s lifetime. Based on an original state-by-state analysis, this index combines information from 13 indicators that span a person’s life from cradle to career. Those indicators fall into three sub-sections: early foundations, school years, and adult outcomes.

For early foundations, which examines factors that help children get off to a good start, Montana earns a grade of A-minus and ranks tenth. The average state posts a B-minus.

Montana receives a C for the school years, a sub-category focusing on metrics related to pre-k enrollment through postsecondary participation. It finishes 31st in the nation in this area. By comparison, the nation as a whole earns a C.

In the area of adult outcomes, based on postsecondary educational attainment and workforce indicators, Montana’s grade is a C. It ranks 34th in the nation. The national average is a C-plus.

School Finance

The school finance analysis examines two critical aspects of school spending. Of the eight indicators in this category, four assess school spending patterns, while the remaining metrics gauge equity in the distribution of funding across the districts within each state.

Across the spending indicators, Montana finishes with a letter grade of D compared with a national average of D. Montana ranks 24th in the nation in this area.

On the equity measures, Montana’s grade is a B-minus, which places it 44th in the national rankings. The nation as a whole earns a B.

K-12 Achievement

The K-12 Achievement Index examines 18 distinct achievement measures related to reading and math performance, high school graduation rates, and the results of Advanced Placement exams. The index assigns equal weight to current levels of performance and changes over time. It also places an emphasis on equity, by examining both poverty-based achievement gaps and progress in closing those gaps. The results of the K-12 Achievement Index reported here are from the Quality Counts 2016 report and have not been updated.

Indicators in the index can be broken down into three sub-categories: status, change, and equity.

Measures in the status sub-category evaluate a state’s current performance. Montana receives a D-plus in this area and ranks 20th in the nation. The average state earns a D.

The change sub-category examines a state’s improvement over time. In this area, Montana posts a D and ranks 45th. The national average is a D-plus.

In the equity sub-section, states are graded based on achievement gaps between low-income students and their more affluent peers. Montana’s grade on those poverty-gap measures stands at an A-minus. Nationally, it ranks sixth in this area. The nation as a whole receives a B.

Montana’s 2017 Highlights Report includes summarized results based on each of the nearly-40 indicators that make up Quality Counts’ overall grading rubric. Tables with the full results are available in PDF form below:

- Grading Summary
- Chance for Success
- School Finance
- K-12 Achievement

Vol. 36, Issue 16

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