Special Report
School & District Management

Methodology

January 05, 2011 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

About the State Policy Survey

To collect information on state education policies for Quality Counts 2011, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center sent surveys to the chief state school officers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The surveys, distributed electronically on June 30, 2010, included sections regarding transitions and alignment, school finance, and the impact of the economy on education.

Respondents were asked to answer the questions and provide appropriate documentation to verify that the reported policies were in place at the time of the survey or for the 2010-11 school year. Such documentation might include state statutes, administrative rules, or Web links for information available online.

To ensure that answers were accurate and that consistent standards were applied uniformly across the states, EPE Research Center staff members carefully evaluated each state’s responses and documentary evidence over a 15-week period. That process often included discussions with the respondents. In the absence of documentation, the center did not award credit or assume the policy was in place.

Between Sept. 23 and Oct. 22, 2010, the EPE Research Center sent each chief state school officer a completed survey indicating the state’s initial responses and the independent determinations by the center based on the available evidence. Officials in the state were asked to review the final answers and supply any corrections or changes that could be supported by additional documentation.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in the survey. The EPE Research Center would like to thank the many dedicated individuals at state education agencies who generously contributed their time and effort in providing information for this year’s report. The Quality Counts editors and the center staff hope this examination of policies across the states will inform the efforts of researchers, legislators, policymakers, and practitioners.

How We Graded the States

For Quality Counts 2011, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center graded the states based on results from 53 distinct indicators spanning four performance and policy categories. Those data were based on original analyses of state and federal data by the EPE Research Center as well as the center’s annual policy survey conducted during the summer of 2010. Survey responses were carefully verified with documentation, such as a state statute or other evidence provided by the state. States receive credit only for policy indicators that are determined to be in place based on the center’s review of the documentation provided.

Quality Counts 2011 presents newly updated scores and letter grades for the states in four critical areas. The Chance-for-Success Index, the K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance grades, respectively, capture key aspects of a state’s broad educational environment, school performance, and the level and equitability of school funding. The fourth updated category focuses on policies related to transitions and alignment from one segment of the educational pipeline to the next.

This year’s report also includes the states’ overall, summative letter grades and scores. These grades incorporate the most recent information available from all six categories that make up Quality Counts’ full policy-and-performance framework. Results for the teaching profession and the standards, assessments, and accountability sections were last updated for Quality Counts 2010. The overall state score is computed by taking the average of the six individual section grades, with each category carrying equal weight.

As is customary, indicators related to this year’s special focus—education and the economy—are not graded. The scoring rubric used to grade within a particular category depends on whether that category consists of numerical measures or policy indicators. For the former, we employ a best-in-class approach for grading; for the latter, a policy-implementation tally.

Best-in-Class Grading: Chance for Success, K-12 Achievement, School Finance

Categories consisting of numerical indicators—Chance for Success, the K-12 Achievement Index, and school finance—are scored using a best-in-class rubric. Under this approach, the leading state on a particular indicator receives 100 points, and other states earn points in proportion to the gaps between themselves and the leader.

This calculation is straightforward for indicators with a clearly bounded measurement scale. Examples of such indicators might be the zero-to-100-point scale for the percent of students proficient in reading, or states’ per-pupil expenditures expressed in positive dollar amounts.

But some of the indicators—such as those related to the equity of education spending—use more-complex scales for which minimum or maximum values are not as clearly defined. For such indicators, we evaluate a particular state based on its performance relative to the minimum and maximum values on that indicator. Those indicators are scored on a 50-point base, meaning that all states start with 50 points rather than zero.

To compute a state’s score for a given category, we average points across the applicable set of indicators. On a best-in-class scale, a state’s overall score for a category can be gauged against an implicit standard where 100 points would correspond to a state that finished first in the nation on each and every measure.

Policy Grading: Transitions and Alignment

The indicators reported in the Transitions and Alignment section of Quality Counts 2011 consist of non-numerical measures showing whether a state has implemented a particular policy or program. The three subcategories in this policy-oriented section are scored on a 50-point base, with a state’s score reflecting the percent of tracked policies that it has implemented. The scores and grades for major policy sections are calculated by averaging subcategory scores. For the transitions and alignment section, a state that has enacted all policies would receive a perfect score of 100 points.

The Grading Scale

Using the scoring rules described above, each state receives a numerical score for each of the indicator categories. After rounding scores to the closest whole-number values, we assign letter grades based on a conventional grading scale, as follows:

A = 93 to 100

A-minus = 90 to 92

B-plus = 87 to 89

B = 83 to 86

B-minus = 80 to 82

C-plus = 77 to 79

C = 73 to 76

C-minus = 70 to 72

D-plus = 67 to 69

D = 63 to 66

D-minus = 60 to 62

F = Below 60

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management First Latina Selected to Lead National Principals Group
Raquel Martinez is a middle school principal in Pasco, Wash.
3 min read
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Courtesy of the National Association of Secondary School Principals
School & District Management Four Things to Know From a State's Push to Switch Schools to Heat Pumps
Installing a heat pump is complex, but the payoff is well worth it, says an expert in Maine who's pushing their adoption in schools.
4 min read
Close up of a heat pump against a brick wall
E+/Getty
School & District Management 3 Things That Keep Superintendents in Their Jobs
Two experienced leaders say strong relationships with the community and school board make all the difference.
5 min read
Magnet attracting employee candidates represented by wooden dolls
iStock/Getty
School & District Management 5 Things to Know About How the Culture Wars Are Disrupting Schools
Disruptions were more acutely felt in districts with more affluent and white students, but there weren't always clear-cut political lines.
6 min read
Illustration of neutral warning symbols, with two standing out in the colors red and blue.
filo/DigitalVision Vectors + EdWeek