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What Sets the Stage for a Lifetime of Achievement?

January 21, 2020 2 min read
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Welcome to the opening chapter of Quality Counts 2020, Education Week’s annual, comparative examination of the nation’s public education system based on a wealth of academic, financial, and socioeconomic factors analyzed by the EdWeek Research Center.

This January installment—Chance for Success—is the first of three Quality Counts reports this year, and the one with perhaps the most personal connection to policymakers, educators, and parents. It focuses on the underlying conditions in states, schools, and households that affect whether children get what they need to become successful adults as they move through the educational pipeline into the post-school phase of their lives.

It’s much more than a simplistic, best-places-to-bring-up-a-family checklist. Collectively, the Chance-for-Success Index’s 13 indicators—all drawn from the most-recent federal and other data sources—offer a kind of body scan of states’ strengths and challenges in their quest to ensure what the EdWeek Research Center calls positive outcomes from cradle to career. The index also makes up one-third of the overall Quality Counts rankings that will be published in September.

Multiple Indicators

Some of the Chance for Success indicators, such as pre-K and kindergarten enrollment, academic performance, and high school graduation, are within the purview of state and local education officials with control over policy and purse strings. Others may involve sectors beyond pre-K-12 policy, such as parental education, income, and English-language fluency in the home.

Taken together, the Chance-for-Success Index offers policymakers in each state data they need to make decisions about how to build on what they’re doing right, offer support in strategic areas, and troubleshoot where needed.

Complementing that data is a package of articles with takeaways from this year’s index. They offer lessons from the top- and bottom-performing states; what’s behind the District of Columbia’s steady pattern of improvement in this area over more than a decade’s time; and a close-up look at “linguistic integration,” or parental fluency in English, and its significance in the overall array of indicators.

The Chance-for-Success Index will be followed in June by top-to-bottom rankings and analysis of school finance, and in September by the K-12 Achievement Index and the annual summative ranking of the states and the nation, pulling together all the threads of Quality Counts for a definitive report card.

—The Editors

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A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 2020 edition of Education Week as Setting the Stage for a Lifetime of Achievement

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