Student Achievement From Our Research Center

Quality Counts 2021: Educational Opportunities and Performance in the United States

By EdWeek Research Center — January 19, 2021 1 min read

Based on a comprehensive analysis of data, the Quality Counts report card answers a key question: Where does my state rank for educational opportunities and performance?

States are graded and ranked in three categories: Chance for Success (January), School Finance (June), and K-12 Achievement (September). A state’s overall grade, published in September, is the average of its scores on the three separate indices tracked for the report card.

Chance for Success: Gauging Educational Opportunities

The EdWeek 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.

The index evaluates each state using a range of measuring sticks, including:

  • How educated are parents?
  • What share of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool?
  • Are K-12 students proficient in reading and math?
  • What’s the high school graduation rate?
  • What percentage of adults have steady employment?

Overall, the top state on the Chance-for-Success Index is Massachusetts, with a score of 91.6 and a letter grade of A-minus. At the other end of the spectrum, New Mexico receives the lowest score at 69.0, a D-plus.

Early Foundations: Are Kids Getting Off to a Good Start?

For early foundations, which examines factors that help children get off to a good start, New Hampshire earns the highest mark at 97.7 or a grade of A. New Mexico is the lowest-scoring state, with a score of 75.6 and a grade of C.

School Years: How Are Students Faring in School?

Massachusetts tops the nation for the school years, a sub-category focusing on metrics related to pre-K enrollment through postsecondary participation. It posts a score of 93.5, which corresponds to a grade of A. By comparison, New Mexico gets the lowest score at 64.8, a D.

Adult Outcomes: Are Adults Finding Opportunities for Success?

In the area of adult outcomes, based on postsecondary educational attainment and workforce indicators, the District of Columbia earns the highest score of 99.7 or an A. By contrast, Mississippi receives the lowest mark, a 66.2 or a D.

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