Education Chat

Quality Counts 2007: From Cradle to Career

Christopher B. Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, and Lynn Olson, executive project editor for Quality Counts 2007, discussed this year's edition of the report.
Sponsored by CDW-G

Jan. 5, 2007

Quality Counts 2007: From Cradle to Career

Guests: Christopher B. Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center and Lynn Olson, managing editor of special projects for Education Week and executive project editor for Quality Counts 2007.

Patrick Miller (Moderator):
Welcome to today’s chat on Quality Counts 2007.

The 11th edition of Quality Counts sees exciting changes to the report that spent its first 10 years focused on tracking state policy. Quality Counts 2007 broadens that perspective and begins to track state efforts to create a more seamless education system by looking how states help students make the transition “from cradle to career.”

The report also includes two new indices. The Chance-for-Success Index provides a state-focused perspective on the importance of education throughout a person’s lifetime. While the K-12 Achievement index for the first time measures student performance and improvement on a variety of indicators of student achievement.

We are joined by Christopher B. Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, and developer of both the new Chance for Success Index and K-12 Achievement Index. We are also joined by Lynn Olson, managing editor of special projects for Education Week and executive project editor for Quality Counts 2007. We’ve got some great questions, so let’s get started.

Question from Diana Smith, high-school teacher, St. Anne’s-Belfield School:
Is it a good idea to break secondary education at the traditional point after grade 12? Is there another way to envision the schooling continuum from pre-school through four years of college?

Lynn Olson:
One of the things Quality Counts looked at this year were state efforts to better connect high schools and colleges. We found that only 11 states have defined “college readiness,” but many more (38) offer career or technical programs that allow students to earn credits while in high school that transfer to postsecondary education systems. And other programs that permit students to earn college credit while still in high school, such as the Advanced Placement program, have been spreading rapidly. Increasingly, I think, you’ll see this blurring of the line between high schools and colleges, which some people refer to as “accelerated learning” options.

Question from Jan Bone, adjunct faculty, English comp, Harper College and Roosevelt University:
At both the schools (higher ed level) where I teach, students go into first-year comp classes on basis of their scores on placement tests. Are the high schools still emphasizing the five-paragraph theme as much as they have in the past, and do high school teachers ever suggest to kids that there are acceptable alternatives?

Lynn Olson:
One of the big concerns right now is that the expectations for what students need to know and do to succeed in college are not aligned with high school curricula and expectations, including the difference between what’s measured on college placement tests and what’s taught in high school courses. Quality Counts 2007 looked at efforts to align expectations from high school to college. Our survey of 50 states and the District of Columbia found that only 11 states have a definition of “college readiness,” typically based on course requirements. Only six states have aligned the content of high school tests with the admission standards for the state’s two- or four-year public postsecondary institutions, and only nine states use state high school test results for decisions relatd to college admissions, course placement, or scholarships. You can find that information on pages 62 and 63 of the report, as well as an essay by David Spence, the president of the Southern Regional Education Board, about how to better connect high schools and colleges.

Question from Ruben Moreno, Reporter, La Opinion Newspaper:
What is neccesary to do in order to close the achievement gap between latino and afroamerican students and white and asian people?

Many students in states like California and cities like LA are english learners, and latinos are underscore in math and science. Are US losing ground in education?

Do you think laws like NCLB or the CAHSEE (exit exam) help to improve the quality of education to see more low income students graduated?

Lynn Olson:
Closing the achievement gap between Latino and African-American students and non-Hispanic white and Asian students is one of the greatest challenges now facing U.S. schools and, unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. Even before children start formal schooling, for example, Hispanic youngsters are less likely than their non-Hispanic peers to be enrolled in center-based preschool programs. And many Latino and African-American students attend schools that have fewer resources and fewer qualified teachers than their more affluent, white peers. One reason that Quality Counts 2007 focuses on children’s chances for success from birth to adulthood is that addressing achievement gaps will require both changes inside and outside schools, in the larger communities in which children find themselves. If you have not seen it already, you might also want to look at the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth, which reviewed the research on the development of literacy in English-language learners.

Question from Elda Loredo, tutor, JEI Learning Center:
NJ is on record as one of the strongest supporters of education and one of the top-scoring states on mandated testing. Is any provision made for analyzing the effects of after-school professional tutoring? There are busy private after-school centers on every corner of our state!

Lynn Olson:
Our K-12 indicators focus on public schools and do not address after-school tutoring by private providers.

Question from Kathy Dunn, retired educator (36 years) and current substitute teacher:
What can be done to challenge the highly gifted, motivated and curious child who is not regularly being challenged under current NCLB rules? I no longer hear the questions from elementary students that showed curiousity beyond the norm. They don’t even respond to teaser questions either.

Lynn Olson:
One concern has been that the federal law is encouraging schools to narrow the curriculum to focus on reading and math, and on those children just below the proficiency level on state tests. A recent conference in D.C., sponsored by the Fordham Foundation, focused on the need to provide all children with a more robust curriculum. And a recent report by the National Center on Education and the Economy notes that creativity and innovation, not just mastery of core content, is important for young people to succeed in a global economy. So I think you’ll see more attention to these issues in the months ahead. In addition, the use of growth models that look at whether all students, including those above the proficient level, are making progress on state tests is something likely to be considered during reauthorization of the law.

Question from Anane Olatunji, Senior Research Scientist, Hamilton Fish Institute:
Given the plethora of research which demonstrates our ability to educate children that live in poverty, the solution to educational inequity has more to do with our political will as a society than with anything else, no?

Lynn Olson:
Political will and expectations are clearly an issue. In addition, I think the Chance-for-Success Index in this year’s Quality Counts illustrates that it’s time to stop thinking about K-12 schooling in isolation. Expanding high-quality early childhood education for young children living in poverty, for example, and providing more opportunities for families with children to earn a decent wage are also important.

Question from Molly Schultz, Trainer/Prevention Specialist, Childhelp Inc.:
What exactly is the Chance For Success Index? Is there a brief summary written out anywhere? How is the data compiled, evaluated, and can this be used in individual schools, or is it better used in community planning?

Christopher B. Swanson:
The Chance-for-Success Index is brand-new with this year’s 11th edition of Quality Counts. In the past the focus of the report has been pretty exclusively on what’s happening within K-12 education. But with this year’s report we’re embarking on a new generation of the report, one in which we’ll be looking at the role of education and schooling in a broader context.

Specifically Chance for Success is our way to capturing the importance of education through out an individual’s lifetime. We can think of the education life course in three main stages. During the Early Childhood years, “education” really means the education of a child’s parents and other associated socioeconomic conditions in the household (like income levels and steady employment). These lay a foundation for learning at the next stage, which is the Formal Schooling years. Here we look at participation in early education programs, hard indicators of test performance, high school graduation rates, and rates of college going in a state. Finally, in Adulthood education plays out first and foremost through work and career. There we look at the education level of a state’s workforce (which is strongly related to economic opportunities), as well as state income and employment level.

In all there are 13 different indicators capturing these aspects of education, which are the basis of our Chance for Success Index. We use the index to provide a sense of the prospects for a successful life (especially as pertains to education) for a child in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

You can find additional information about the Chance for Success Index in the online edition of Quality Counts at Look for a story called “Spanning a Lifetime.”

Question from Linda Brown, student, UHawaii:
Are there any efforts to determine what each state is doing to include preschoolers with disabilities in their early childhood programs?

Lynn Olson:
We did not collect information on this, but you might try the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Institute for Early Education Research, based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Question from Michelle Ruggio Monarch Rock Homeschool:
Will the No Child Left Behind Act be repealed? New York has ELA testing in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades partly because of the act. The schools are ‘teaching to test’ and this is depriving our children of valuable learning time and teaching them to cram for tests as early as 4th grade. Our system should be looking at Montessori style teaching so our youth can learn skills to survive in the real world!

Lynn Olson:
I don’t have a crystal ball. President Bush and some of the original sponsors of the law hope to see it reauthorized on schedule in 2007, though many observers think it will take longer. It’s too early to say where new members of Congress stand vis-a-vis minor changes versus a major overhaul of the legislation.

Question from Marvi Hagopian, Director of Assessments, Reading Lions Center:
After noticing California scored extremely low in the Linguistic Integration Ranking (10.5 points below the next lowest score), how do it explain its high performance in the areas of Postsecondary Participation and Adult Education Attainment?

Christopher B. Swanson:
A lot of folks have asked questions along the lines of “Well, isn’t demography destiny? If you have a disadvantaged population or many children growing up in households where English is not spoken, doesn’t that mean that adults in the state will fare poorly later on?”

California is a good example that shows that this isn’t necessarily the case. Although the state does face those kinds of socioeconomic and demographic challenges, the public school system is able to hold its own and provide opportunities for school kids and young adults. That’s particularly true at the postsecondary level where college-going rates in California are above the national average.

And in the state we also see signs of a strong economy, in terms of a well-educated workforce and high income levels. So there are also opportunities to make to make good on a good education in the state.

Question from Carol McGrane, English Coordinator, Wilkes-Barre:
Do you believe the NCLB Law is allowing our students to be prepared for their post-secondary careers?

Lynn Olson:
The federal law includes some provisions related to high schools, but in general it focuses more on elementary and middle schools. One of the subjects likely to come up during reauthorization is whether to address high school improvements more directly. For Quality Counts this year, we looked at state efforts to better connect high schools with postsecondary education and training and the world of work. You can find some of those results on pages 62-63 and 74-75 of the report. But, in general, I’d say most of those efforts are in their infancy and have yet to reach fruition.

Question from Thomas Waters, Assistant Principal, Dept of Defense Dependent Schools, Germany:
To what do you attribute the “gap” in student test scores, AP exam scores, etc. between DoDDS schools and the CONUS schools?

Christopher B. Swanson:
That’s a good question. Our traditional terrain in Quality Counts is the 50 states and the District of Columbia. (Although we didn’t actually start looking at DC in the very beginning.)

So unfortunately, we can’t really say much about differences between performance in the Department of Defense schools and the 50-plus-one states.

But that’s food for thought. It can be hard to get the types of information we use in Quality Counts for non-state jurisdictions like DoDDS or the territories. But maybe we should take a close look in future installments to see if there is more we can do to cast a wider net.

Question from Carol Packard, NYS Office of Mental Health Div. of Children and Families:
How do we foster clinical care and educational planning to address the gap in work identity as part of student development? Too much emphasis is on one dimension of success (testing) with little appreciation of unique (and future marketable) talents for those with varied gifts/intelligence.

Lynn Olson:
One issue we looked at for Quality Counts this year is whether states have a definition of workforce readiness distinct from the definition of college readiness. Surveys of employers, for example, suggest that in addition to academic skills, they care about things like attendance, ability to work with others, and attitude that traditional standardized tests don’t measure.

Question from kevin mccluskey, Department of Education, New Brunswick Canada:
Given that students take on average 13 years to complete public school and 4 or more years at post seceondary how is it possible to determine sucess with out a study that would look at data over 17 or more years? Student often do not start their professional lives until well after public education of some form.

Christopher B. Swanson:
We’re very excited about the new Chance for Success Index and the way it helps shed light on the role education plays throughout a person’s life. But you’re right that there is a certain kind of thought experiment going on here. We are taking a snapshot of a state at a particular point in time and saying “What if a child grew up in the state, given conditions that prevail today? How would we expect he or she to fare later in life?”

That’s not perfect, of course. But it is the best way to tackle those questions given the kinds of data that are available right now. I would add, however, that although this is the first installment of Chance for Success, we will be returning to it in the future. So we’ll be able to track state progress, to see how much is changing from year to year.

Question from Prachee Mukherjee, Coordinator of Assessment and Evaluation, St. Louis Park Public Schools, MN:
Given what the report contains about the success of other countries with immigrant (assumed to be poor and minority or both) children, what is one thing that the Superintendent and Board of Education can do to improve learning for this group of students?

Lynn Olson:
One thing that Massachusetts is doing to help close the achievement gap is to give students more learning time. In June 2006, the state dedicated $6.5 million to fund a pilot initiative in 10 public schools, which have expanded the amount of learning time provided to students by 30 percent and redesigned the school day to improve student instruction and engagement. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Question from Steven Boone, Coordinator of Developmental Reading, Towson University:
The sentiments contained and/or presumed in these articles are based upon standardized testing. However research indicates HS GPA is the best predictor of student performance in college. (1) So, why do standardized tests continue to fail to adequately describe student performance? (2) Why are standardized tests continually used to justify educational initiatives when these tests are clearly in need of remediation?

Lynn Olson:
Standardized tests are one measure of student performance but, as you correctly note, not the only measure. In a commentary for this year’s Quality Counts, David Spence, the president of the Southern Regional Education Board, argues that to better connect high schools and colleges will require far more than requiring all students to take a college-admissions test to determine their college readiness. It also means connecting the standards and curriculum used in high schools with the expectations for college-level work and focusing, particularly, on the role of classroom teachers in supporting student learning.

Question from Brian Stecher, Senior Social Scientist, RAND:
It seems to me that many of your dimensions are measured in terms of quantity rather than quality. For example, the existence of kindergarten standards is not a measure of the quality of kindergarten standards. Aren’t you creating a false sense of quality?

Christopher B. Swanson:
Brian, that’s a good question and one that was at the heart of a big dilemma we faced when reframing Quality Counts for its second decade. Last year for it’s 10th anniversary, we did a big 10-year retrospective to look at changes in state standards policies and student achievement over time. We found some fascinating results, particularly in terms of the kinds of policies that seemed to be most closely related to state achievement gains. (You can find out more about that in a report called Making the Connection, available online at

But the questions for us going into year 11 were: Do we go deep (and try to get underneath issues of quality and fidelity of implementing state policy)? Or do we go deep (and look at the broader role of K-12 education)?

We chose the latter, but not because we thought that quality of implementation was not an important issue. The kinds of policy indicators we are able to provide on a 50-state basic provide useful information on state activities in the policy arena. But we fully acknowledge that this tells only part of the story. Our hope is that other organizations will take up the question where we left off and further investigate the issues of quality in a more comprehensive way.

Question from Suzanne Bouffard, Project Manager, Harvard Family Research Project:
What role can non-school supports (such as after school programs, college preparation programs, and families) play in facilitating these important educational transitions? And what kind of indicators would you include to assess the availability and impact of these non-school supports?

Lynn Olson:
Suzanne, that’s a great question. Non-school supports can be an important part of the picture but an area in which it’s hard to find comparable data across the 50 states. Any suggestions you have would be great.

Question from Miles Myers, Senior Researcher, ISCA, Los Angeles:
I understand that this is a transitional approach to Quality Counts, but I do not understand why you used elementary reading as an achievement benchmark. The point of reading is comprehension, and 4th grade programs are still largely run by the phonics police. My point is that your approach seems to put a heavy emphasis on policy attainment (phonics in reading) and a weak emphasis on educational outcomes (reading comprehension).

Christopher B. Swanson:
Our intent in Quality Counts this year was to take a broad view of education. Our Chance for Success index examines some crucial indicators as a way to assess the importance of education throughout a person’s lifetime. One of those indicators was 4th grade reading, another was 8th grade math.

But to get into more depth on K-12 performance, the report also introduces a new State Achievement Index for the states’ public elementary and schools. There we look at a wider variety of performance outcomes, among which are 8th grade reading and performance on Advanced Placement exams.

That Achievement Index includes a pretty much even mix of indicators that look at current levels of achievement and measures of gains over time within the states. So this will give readers a more comprehensive perspective on achievement within a state.

Question from Gloria Boyce-Charles, Founder/President Ready, Set, Go! Learning Center:
I think that we would all agree that early childhood education programs are critical. But many programs today place an unhealthy emphasis upon academics -- insisting that children learn, for example, basic phonics and math skills. Children aren’t given sufficient time to engage in constructive play, and to develop their imaginations. I’m concerned that these developmentally inappropriate approaches may cause stress and may discourage the child’s creative expression and enthusiasm for learning. What are your thoughts?

Lynn Olson:
Obviously, learning for young children should be developmentally appropriate. Teaching 4-year-olds shouldn’t look like teaching 10-year-olds. At the same time, the National Research Council, in its report, “Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers,” found that children tend to learn more and be better prepared for formal schooling when they attend well-planned, high-quality preschools in which curricular aims are specified and delivered. And Quality Counts 2007 draws on a large body of research that’s found long-term benefits when children, particularly disadvantaged youngsters, attend high-quality, intensive early childhod education programs.

Question from Lisa James, Marketing Specialist, The Grow Network/McGraw-Hill:
Is the research center working with other organizations to help discuss possible solutions to the issues indentified in this report?

Christopher B. Swanson:
The mission of the EPE Research Center, like our parent organization (Editorial Projects in Education), is to provide information and analysis that help to illuminate complex educational issues. We are not an advocacy group nor a program developer, so we don’t take positions on specific policies or legislation nor do we develop interventions. But we are always very open to working with other groups to better understand the challenges that schools face, particularly those our reports might help to bring to light. And I should add that we do often meet with national and more local organizations in the field to advise on a variety of issues.

Question from J Brock, parent, Portland, Or:
Is reading, writing, arithmatic, obsolete? These are only three subjects and amount to half a days school work. It seems that it should be possible given our global community to incoporate foreign language in the preschool and elementary years, along with science and art to complete the daily schedule and continue on through High School, is this thinking off base? Last what are other successful education systems doing?

Lynn Olson:
Numeracy and literacy are clearly important but shouldn’t be all that school is about. The No Child Left Behind Act’s focus on reading and math, however, is clearly encouraging states to focus on those two areas in particular. Our survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for Quality Counts 2007 found that all 50 states and the District report that their tests are aligned with their content standards in English/language arts; and only Nebraska chooses to rely on local tests and standards to measure students’ math performance. In contrast, only 35 states have aligned science tests and only 19 have aligned history tests, the one subject in which the federal law does not mandate state testing. Concerns that the federal law is encouraging schools to narrow the curriculum has been growing.

Comment from Barbara Lovejoy, founder of nonprofit, Generación Floreciente, SLC, UT:
I want to commend you for this report. For the last couple of years I have been stressing to people at different levels of education how important it is to have a “seamless education” and that each level should know and understand what is happening at each level and how they relate to each other. It has been a difficult road helping them to understand that as they are so focused on the demands of their own particular level. This report will definitely be a help. Again..thank you!

Question from Michael Kaufman, InnovationLabs LLC:
Do you plan on addressing the need for system redesign? This whole process you have undertaken is admirable and I believe it stimulates some great discussion. My concern is that the entire premise of the research and your report is based on a system that is antiquated and needing redesign. I would hope that one outcome of your research and these conversations is to realize that redesigning the system is necessary. To state the chances of a young person’s success in the current system seems silly to me if the current system isn’t designed to meet the needs of these people (and doing more of the same - harder, faster, more rigourously, etc. will only make matters worse).

Christopher B. Swanson:
In the education world, we have been hearing the expression “One System” a lot lately which refers to the reach of schooling at all different levels – preschool through higher education. However, I think we are also well aware that in reality we are often dealing with multiple systems (with an ‘s’) that don’t necessarily communicate with one another very well.

So in this year’s report we also examine state policy efforts aimed at better aligning educational systems from childhood to adulthood. So, for example, do states establish early learning standards and, if so, are they aligned with elementary expectations? Similarly there is the question of alignment between high school and both higher education and the workplace.

You can find information on these types of alignment policies throughout Quality Counts.

In general, we find that states are making decent progress on alignment for early learning and economy and workforce linkages. But high school-to-college alignment seems to be a particular challenge for many states. However, this is a very active area of policymaking right now. So I think we can expect to see a lot of progress in the next few years.

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center, Little Rock School District:
Lynn Olson,

What does the research say about how students do with teachers who have a more advanced level of certification?

Lynn Olson:
There is currently a lot of debate about whether traditional measures of teacher quality, such as licensure and certification, make a difference for student achievement. We’re going to be looking closely at that research this year, as we rethink our teacher quality indicators for Quality Counts. If you’d like to weigh in on that topic, please give us your views at the talkback on our teacher quality and school finance indicators at:

Question from Dea Conrad-Curry, Educational Consultant:
I appreciate the study’s depth, but am concerned about the lack of NAEP data or any data at a post middle school level. High school data appears to be drawn from the AP demographic and graduation rates, yet we know that graduation rates are not a true reflection of what students know, have learned or can do. I am concerned about the lack of reporting between the 8th and the 12th grade and the message such an absence sends in relation to concern for that group of students, their prospects and their educators.

Christopher B. Swanson:
I’m very concerned about the lack of high school NAEP data at the state level myself. As many readers of Quality Counts may know, the State NAEP is only administered at grades 4 and 8. The challenges of administering NAEP are tremendous and that is particularly true at the high school level (where some subjects are tested by NAEP on a national rather than state-by-state basis).

We can only hope that NAEP will add 12th grade state assessments to its already extensive program. Despite the hurdles that would be involved, my understanding is that the U.S. Department of Education is working seriously on the issues. They are well aware of the importance of such data, especially when there is so much activity around high school and higher education reform.

Question from Ruth Hall, President Florida Association of School Administrators:
What is the parent/community connection to student success?

What can schools do to build stronger connections for increasing student success with the families of at-risk and underserved populations?

Lynn Olson:
Families play a crucial role in their children’s learning. One of the reasons Quality Counts 2007 takes a wider lens than past reports is to emphasize the role of families and communities, not just the schools, in shaping children’s chances for success. One good source for ideas about reaching out to families and communities is the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University, directed by Joyce Epstein.

Question from J G Watts, Faculty, Fielding Graduate University:
My first reading of the state report for California indicates no demographic disaggregation of data. The generic portrait is useful; however, few student populations correspond to this picture. What was the reason for not collecting/reporting the data this way? Are disaggregated findings available?

Thanks very much.

Christopher B. Swanson:
Chance for Success considers the average conditions in a given state. Although that’s the best way to gauge overall conditions, many young children, school kids, and adults might not fit an “average” profile.

For some of the indicators we use, it is possible to disaggregate data (for example for different racial or ethnic groups) on a 50-state basis. But this is not always possible either because disaggregated data are not available or because of state demographics (a group in a particular state may be too small to yield reliable estimates).

We obtain much of the data for our Chance for Success Index from the American Community Survey, a new Census Bureau data collection (that will be replacing the long form in the decennial Census). Because this is a very large data base (about 3 million people represented), it may allow us to replicate much of our analysis for specific groups.

This is something we will be exploring in the coming year.

Question from Regina Gilchrist Ash, Director of Instruction, Swain County Schools, North Carolina:
It seems that with reports such as this and Tough Choices, Tough Times (Report of the new Commission on Skills of the American Workforce,) educators, as well as policymakers and legislators should be feeling compelled to make drastic changes. (I know I feel that way.) I don’t see this being as HUGE a media topic as I feel that it is. What can we do to get more attention on - and more importantly, affect more change - about how we educate and serve our youth???

Lynn Olson:
Regina, one reason we did the Chance-for-Success Index as part of this year’s report and focused on the connections between K-12 education and the other systems with which it intersects is to draw the media’s attention to these issues. As we noted in the report, if policymakers really want to ensure children’s chances for success, they need to address leaks in the education pipeline all along the way, from birth to adulthood, not just during the K-12 years. I think you’re starting to see more attention to these issues.

Question from Courtenay Carmody, Director of Research & Evaluation, MOUSE, New York, NY:
We work with a number of urban districts. I am wondering if city/district-level reports or data is available?

Thank you.

Christopher B. Swanson:
Right now, our Chance for Success Index is only available at the state level. Readers can find information in the full Quality Counts report. In addition, we have produced special web-only State Highlight Reports available online at

These contain state specific highlight from the Research Center’s analysis and allow you to compare your state alongside the national average. In addition to the Chance for Success Index, the state report also examine our new K-12 State Achievement Index, policies attempting to better align K-12 systems with other stages of schooling and the workplace, and state policies relating to standards, assessments, and accountability.

Much of the data we use is not available at levels below the state. However, some can be taken down to a more local level. We’ll be exploring ways to make use of that local data in the future.

Question from :
Thank you for the report. There are so many helpful data, but it doesn’t seem like you brought them together. I didn’t see the Achievement Index even mentioned in your Executive Summary. I’m not asking for recommendations, but there’s another step in interpreting where you could reinforce the usefulness of the report in helping states identify their challenges (Chance for Success Index) and see the kinds of gains (Achievement Index) and policy improvements (State of the States)that similarly-challenged states have made. But if you don’t bring the data from your three sections together, isn’t it harder for others to see its utility?

Lynn Olson:
One thing you might look at is the national highlights report, available on our Web site, which includes highlights of the Chance-for-Success, alignment policies, and Achievement Index all in an easily downloadable format. You can find it at

Question from Paul J. Smith, Ed.D., Facilitator, Accelerated Learning Center, Little Rock School District:
Christopher Swanson,

Would you please consider explaining what the McLoone Index is?

Christopher B. Swanson:
For readers not adept in the arcane arts of school finance analysis, the McLoone Index is a measure we have use to determine how equitably resources are distributed across school systems within a state.

As many readers of Quality Counts have noted, we did not include our traditional categories of Teacher Quality or School Finance and Equity. Quality teachers and adequate resources are two major things that we know make a difference for schools. However, there is much debate over how to best address these issues from a state policy perspective. This became particularly clear to use when we saw that neither teacher quality policies or funding levels were significantly related to state achievement gains in last year’s Making the Connection report (available at

So this year as we move in to a new framework for Quality Counts, we are putting those two policy categories on hiatus. During the course of the year, we will be co-hosting several meetings to get feedback from educators, policymakers, and researchers about how best to approach these topics in future installments of the report.

But for starters, we have set up an online TalkBack feature where anyone can weigh in on teacher quality policies and school finance.

That can be found online at:

Patrick Miller (Moderator):

Thank you for participating in today’s chat. We had many great questions, and unfortunately weren’t able to get to them all. Please join us next week Wednesday, January 10th at 3pm Eastern Time for our next Quality Counts 2007 chat on college readiness. A transcript of this chat will be posted shortly on

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