The 22nd annual edition of Quality Counts 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.
This year, Alabama finishes 43rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an overall score of 70.2 out of 100 points and a grade of C-minus. The nation as a whole posts a grade of C.
Diving into the findings for the three graded indices, Alabama earns a C in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks 41st. The average state earns a C-plus. In School Finance, Alabama receives a D-plus and ranks 36th. For the K-12 Achievement Index, it finishes 43rd with a grade of D. The average state earns grades of C in School Finance and K-12 Achievement. 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, Alabama earns a grade of B-minus and ranks 35th. The average state posts a B-minus.
Alabama receives a C-minus for the school years, a sub-category focusing on metrics related to pre-K enrollment through postsecondary participation. It finishes 45th in the nation in this area. By comparison, the nation as a whole earns a C-plus.
In the area of adult outcomes, based on postsecondary educational attainment and workforce indicators, Alabama’s grade is a C. It ranks 41st in the nation. The national average is a C-plus.
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, Alabama finishes with an F compared with a national average of D-minus. Alabama ranks 39th in the nation in this area.
On the equity measures, Alabama receives a B-plus, which places it 13th in the national rankings. The nation as a whole earns a B.
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.
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. Alabama receives an F in this area and ranks 47th in the nation. The average state earns a D-plus.
The change sub-category examines a state’s improvement over time. In this area, Alabama posts a D-plus and ranks 21st. The national average is a C-minus.
In the equity sub-section, states are graded based on achievement gaps between low-income students and their more affluent peers. Alabama’s grade on those poverty-gap measures stands at a B. Nationally, it ranks 16th in this area. The nation as a whole receives a B.