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, New Jersey finishes second among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an overall score of 87.2 out of 100 points and a grade of B-plus. The nation as a whole posts a grade of C.
Diving into the findings for the three graded indices, New Jersey earns a B-plus in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks third. The average state earns a C-plus. In School Finance, New Jersey receives a B-plus and ranks third. For the K-12 Achievement Index, it finishes second with a grade of B. 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, New Jersey earns a grade of B-plus and ranks 19th. The average state posts a B-minus.
New Jersey receives an A-minus for the school years, a sub-category focusing on metrics related to pre-K enrollment through postsecondary participation. It finishes second 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, New Jersey’s grade is a B. It ranks sixth 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, New Jersey finishes with an A-minus compared with a national average of D-minus. New Jersey ranks fourth in the nation in this area.
On the equity measures, New Jersey receives a B, which places it 37th 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. New Jersey receives an A-minus in this area and ranks second in the nation. The average state earns a D-plus.
The change sub-category examines a state’s improvement over time. In this area, New Jersey posts a C-plus and ranks second. 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. New Jersey’s grade on those poverty-gap measures stands at a B. Nationally, it ranks 31st in this area. The nation as a whole receives a B.