Special Report
School & District Management

California Earns a C on State Report Card, Ranks 32nd in Nation

January 17, 2018 3 min read

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.

State Overview

This year, California finishes 32nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an overall score of 72.6 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, California earns a C in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks 38th. The average state earns a C-plus. In School Finance, California receives a C-minus and ranks 32nd. For the K-12 Achievement Index, it finishes 22nd with a grade of C-minus. 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, California earns a grade of C and ranks 49th. The average state posts a B-minus.

California receives a C for the school years, a sub-category focusing on metrics related to pre-K enrollment through postsecondary participation. It finishes 30th 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, California’s grade is a C-plus. It ranks 27th 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, California finishes with an F compared with a national average of D-minus. California ranks 35th in the nation in this area.

On the equity measures, California receives a B-plus, which places it 12th 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.

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. California receives a D in this area and ranks 32nd in the nation. The average state earns a D-plus.

The change sub-category examines a state’s improvement over time. In this area, California posts a C and ranks sixth. 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. California’s grade on those poverty-gap measures stands at a C-plus. Nationally, it ranks 47th in this area. The nation as a whole receives a B.

View more 2018 reports on states and the nation >
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