Special Report
School & District Management

Quality Counts: Sources and Notes

January 03, 2015 8 min read
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CHANCE FOR SUCCESS

EARLY FOUNDATIONS

Family Income: Percent of dependent children (under 18 years of age) who live in above-low-income families. Low income is defined as 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which depends on the size and composition of the family. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2013.

Parent Education: Percent of dependent children with at least one parent who holds a two- or four-year postsecondary degree. Ibid.

Parental Employment: Percent of dependent children with at least one parent who is steadily employed, defined as working full time (at least 35 hours per week) and year-round (at least 50 weeks during the previous year). Those not in the labor force are excluded from calculations.

Active-duty military service is considered participation in the labor force. Ibid.

Linguistic Integration: Percent of dependent children whose parents are fluent speakers of English. Fluency is defined as being a native speaker or speaking the language “very well.” All resident parents must be fluent in English for a family to be considered linguistically integrated. Ibid.

SCHOOL YEARS

Preschool Enrollment: Percent of 3- and 4-year-olds who are attending preschool, based on a three-year average. Both public and private education programs are counted. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Kindergarten Enrollment: Percent of eligible children attending public or private kindergarten programs, based on a three year average. The size of the entering kindergarten cohort is calculated based on the number of 5- and 6-year-olds in a state. Ibid.

Elementary Reading Achievement: Percent of 4th graders in public schools who scored at or above the “proficient” level in reading on the 2013 State NAEP assessment. National Assessment of Educational Progress, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 2013.

Middle School Mathematics Achievement: Percent of 8th graders in public schools who scored at or above the “proficient” level in mathematics on the 2013 State NAEP assessment. Ibid.

High School Graduation Rate: Percent of public high school students who graduated on time with a standard diploma for the 2011-12 school year. The graduation rate is calculated using the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR). National Center for Education Statistics, Public High School Four-Year-On-Time Graduation Rates and Event Dropout Rates: School Years 2010- 11 and 2011-12, April 2014.

Young-Adult Education: Percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) who either are currently enrolled in a postsecondary education program or have already earned a postsecondary credential. Those still enrolled in high school programs are excluded from the calculation. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2013.

ADULT OUTCOMES

Adult Educational Attainment: Percent of adults (ages 25 to 64) who have earned a postsecondary degree. Calculations include all individuals whose highest level of attained education is an associate, bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. Ibid.

Annual Income: Percent of adults (ages 25 to 64) whose annual personal income reaches or exceeds the national median ($36,594 in July 2013 dollars). Only individuals in the labor force are included in calculations. Ibid.

Steady Employment: Percent of adults (ages 25 to 64) who are steadily employed, defined as working full time (at least 35 hours per week) and year-round (at least 50 weeks during the previous year). Those not in the labor force are excluded from calculations. Active-duty military service is considered participation in the labor force. Ibid.

SCHOOL FINANCE

EQUITY

The Education Week Research Center conducted an original analysis to calculate four distinct indicators that capture the degree to which education funding is equitably distributed across the districts within a state. Calculations for each equity indicator take into account regional differences in educational costs and the concentrations of low-income students and those with disabilities, whose services are more expensive than average.

Students in poverty receive a weight of 1.2; students with disabilities receive a weight of 1.9.

Wealth-Neutrality Score: This indicator captures the degree to which a school district’s revenue (state and local sources) is correlated with its property-based wealth.

Positive values indicate that wealthier districts have higher revenue levels.

Education Week Research Center analysis using: U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data (CCD) 2010 -11 and 2011-12 (district-level data); NCES Comparable Wage Index 2012, as updated by Lori Taylor of Texas A&M University; U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data for 2012; U.S. Census Bureau’s Small-Area Income and Poverty Estimates 2012; U.S. Department of Education’s School District Demographics data from the 2008-12 American Community Survey.

McLoone Index: Indicator value is the ratio of the total amount spent on pupils below the median to the amount that would be needed to raise all students to the median per-pupil expenditure in the state. The index defines perfect equity as a situation in which every district spends at least as much as the district serving the median student in the state (ranked according to per-pupil expenditures). Education Week Research Center analysis using: U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data (CCD) 2010-11 and 2011-12 (district-level data); NCES Comparable Wage Index 2012, as updated by Lori Taylor of Texas A&M University; U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data for 2012; U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates 2012.

Coefficient of Variation: This indicator measures the level of variability in funding across school districts in a state. The value is calculated by dividing the standard deviation of per-pupil expenditures (adjusted for regional cost differences and student needs) by the state’s average spending per pupil. Ibid.

Restricted Range: The restricted range is the difference between spending levels for the districts serving students at the 5th and 95th percentiles of the per-pupil expenditure distribution. Ibid.

SPENDING

Adjusted Per-Pupil Expenditures: Average statewide per-student spending, adjusted for variations in regional costs using the NCES Comparable Wage Index 2012, as updated by Lori Taylor of Texas A&M University. Education Week Research Center analysis using: U.S. Census Bureau, Public Education Finances: 2012, May 2014.

Percent of Students in Districts with PPE at or Above U.S. Average: Expenditures are adjusted for regional differences in educational costs and the concentrations of low-income students and students with disabilities. Education Week Research Center analysis using: U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data for 2012; CCD district-level data 2010-11 and 2011-12; NCES Comparable Wage Index 2012, as updated by Lori Taylor of Texas A&M University; and U.S. Census Bureau’s SmallArea Income and Poverty Estimates 2012.

Spending Index: Index gauges state spending according to the percent of students served by districts spending at or above the national average as well as the degree to which lower-spending districts fall short of that national benchmark.

Expenditures are adjusted for regional differences in educational costs and the concentrations of low-income students and students with disabilities. Ibid.

Percent of Total Taxable Resources Spent on Education: Share of state resources spent on K-12 education. Education Week Research Center analysis using: state and local revenues from the U.S. Census Bureau, Public Education Finances: 2012, May 2014; 2012 gross-state-product data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Preschool Enrollment: Percent of 3- and 4-year-olds who are attending preschool, based on a three-year average. Both public and private education programs are counted. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Preschool Enrollment Gains: Change in the percent of 3- and 4-year-olds attending preschool between 2008 and 2013.

Calculations are based on three-year averages from 2006-08 and 2011-13.

Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2006-08 and 2011-13.

Preschool Poverty Gap: Percentage-point difference between 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool in poor and non-poor families. Low income is defined as 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which depends on the size and composition of the family. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Preschool Poverty-Gap Change: Change in the size of the poverty gap between 2008 and 2013. Calculations are based on three-year averages from 2006-08 to 2011-13. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2006-08 and 2011-13.

Full-Day Preschool: Percent of preschool students attending full-day programs. Both public and private education programs are counted. Education Week Research Center Analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey October Supplement, 2009-13.

Head Start Enrollment: Number of children enrolled in Head Start as a percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in families at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

Education Week Research Center Analysis of: 2013 Head Start enrollment figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families; and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2013.

Kindergarten Enrollment: Percent of eligible children attending public or private kindergarten programs, based on a three year average. The size of the entering kindergarten cohort is calculated based on the number of 5- and 6-year-olds in a state. Education Week Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Full-Day Kindergarten: Percent of kindergarten students attending full-day programs. Both public and private education programs are counted.

Education Week Research Center Analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey October Supplement, 2009-13.

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In March 2024, Education Week announced the end of the Quality Counts report after 25 years of serving as a comprehensive K-12 education scorecard. In response to new challenges and a shifting landscape, we are refocusing our efforts on research and analysis to better serve the K-12 community. For more information, please go here for the full context or learn more about the EdWeek Research Center.

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