Special Report
School & District Management

What’s Behind the Grades and Scores?

January 21, 2020 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Quality Counts grades all 50 states and the nation on the Chance-for-Success Index, which gives a snapshot of a person’s prospect of successful outcomes over a lifetime, from early childhood to adulthood and the working world.

But what’s behind those top-line numbers and letter grades? Here’s how it’s done:

• The EdWeek Research Center collects the most recently available federal data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Assessment of Education Progress, the U.S. Department of Education, and other sources to get a more-detailed portrait of how people are likely to fare from their earliest years through adulthood.

• The states are scored and graded on 13 separate indicators. Four of them deal with conditions related to early childhood that can make a big difference in the years before formal schooling. Six others focus on formal education from preschool through the college years. And another three offer a snapshot of adult outcomes, completing the cradle-to-career trajectory.

• All these calculations then are blended for each state’s final A-F grade and numerical score

Here’s a quick and easy guide to the grading scale and each of the 13 indicators that make up the Chance for Success grade. For more detail, see this report’s full sources and notes page.)

The Grading Scale

Each state receives a numerical score for each of the indicator categories. After rounding scores to the closest whole-number values, we assign letter grades based on a conventional A-F grading scale, as follows:

A = 93 to 100

A-minus = 90 to 92

B-plus = 87 to 89

B = 83 to 86

B-minus = 80 to 82

C-plus = 77 to 79

C = 73 to 76

C-minus = 70 to 72

D-plus = 67 to 69

D = 63 to 66

D-minus = 60 to 62

F = Below 60

Family Income: Percent of dependent children (under 18 years of age) in families that are above low income. Low income is defined as 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which depends on the size and composition of the family.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Elementary Reading Achievement: Percent of 4th graders in public schools who scored at or above the “proficient” level in reading on the 2019 NAEP, known as “the Nation’s Report Card.”

Middle School Mathematics Achievement: Percent of 8th graders in public schools who scored at or above the proficient level in mathematics on the 2019 NAEP.

High School Graduation Rate: Percent of public high school students who graduated on time with a standard diploma for the 2016-17 school year.

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.

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.

Annual Income: Percent of adults (ages 25 to 64) whose annual personal income reaches or exceeds the national median ($42,550 in 2018 dollars). Only individuals in the labor force are included in calculations.

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.

Related Tags:

Source: EdWeek Research Center, 2020
A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 2020 edition of Education Week as Methodology: What’s Behind the Grades and Scores?


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Best Ways for Schools to Prepare for the Next Pandemic
Being better connected to families and the community and diversifying the education workforce are some of the ways to be ready.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educators' Support for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Is Rising Dramatically
Nearly 60 percent of educators say students who are old enough to receive COVID vaccines should be required to get them to attend school.

4 min read
Mariah Vaughn, a 15-year-old Highland Park student, prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during the vaccine clinic at Topeka High School on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021.
Mariah Vaughn, 15, a student at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kan., prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at her school in August.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP
School & District Management 10 Ways to Tackle Education's Urgent Challenges
As the school year gets underway, we ask hard questions about education’s biggest challenges and offer some solutions.
2 min read
Conceptual Image of schools preparing for the pandemic
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week