This third and final installment of Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report card on the nation’s schools lands at a time of frustration and uncertainty for educators welcoming students back for another school year dominated by COVID-19’s disruption.
School and district leaders are in the spotlight as never before, making high-stakes decisions about students’ health and safety with parents, politicians, and the public looking over their shoulders. At the same time, they’re still responsible for moving the needle on student achievement despite stubborn, baked-in challenges involving equity, resources, bureaucracy, and unprecedented societal friction.
That tension is reflected in the latest report, which quantifies the strengths and weaknesses of the nation’s K-12 system based on federal data and other sources, and digs into how the pandemic is affecting families of school-age children in ways that reverberate in the classroom and beyond.
The report’s centerpiece: the national and state-by-state summative grades and rankings. These are derived by the EdWeek Research Center from mostly pre-pandemic era data on school finance, K-12 achievement, and socioeconomic factors fundamental to lifelong success, academic and otherwise.
Complementing that annual report card is analysis of a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse survey from April, at a time when schools had not yet closed for summer break, providing insights into how American families were faring in key areas including ed-tech and teacher as the 2020-21 school year came to an end.
For those seeking greater detail on how the nation and each of the states scored on the entire suite of indicators that make up their Quality Counts 2021 grades and rankings, download the EdWeek Research Center’s exclusive State Highlights Reports (edw.link/QC2021overall).
— The Editors
A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2021 edition of Education Week as Schools Straddle the Pandemic and Familiar Headwinds in Quest to Boost Quality