Quality Counts 2006 tracks state policy efforts over the past decade in four core areas—standards, assessments, accountability, and efforts to improve teacher quality—to see where states have made progress. In general, states received 1 point for each year that they had a particular policy indicator in place. For indicators with an asterisk, states received 2 points if they met the requirements of the indicator entirely (for example, if state standards were clear and specific for all three grade spans, or if state tests included both short-answer and extended-response items), and 1 point if they did so in part (for example, if a state had adopted content standards but not in all four subjects specified, or if it required between one and 10 weeks of student teaching).
The national implementation score was calculated by taking the average across all 50 states in each policy area. The analysis does not include the District of Columbia.
The specific indicators are as follows.
- State has adopted standards in the core academic subjects of English, mathematics, science, and social studies.*
- English standards at all grade levels—elementary, middle, and high school—are clear, specific, and grounded in content.*
- Math standards at all grade levels are clear, specific, and grounded in content.*
- Science standards at all grade levels are clear, specific, and grounded in content.*
- Social studies standards at all grade levels are clear, specific, and grounded in content.*
SOURCE: Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, 2006
- State tests go beyond multiple-choice items to include short-answer questions and those requiring an extended response from students.*
- English tests are aligned with state content standards.
- Math tests are aligned with state content standards.
- Science tests are aligned with state content standards.
- Social studies tests are aligned with state content standards.
- State provides report cards for all public schools.
- State imposes sanctions on low-performing schools.
- State provides rewards to high-performing or improving schools.
- State took part in the most recent cycle of the state-level National Assessment of Educational Progress.
- Student promotion is contingent on performance on statewide exams.
- High school graduation is contingent on performance on statewide exit or end-of-course exams.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality:
- State requires a college major in the subject taught for initial licensure at the high school level.
- Teachers must pass a basic-skills test for initial licensure.
- Teachers must pass a test of subject-matter knowledge for initial licensure.
- Teachers must pass a test of subject-specific pedagogy for initial licensure.
- State provides licensure incentives for teachers who earn certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
- State provides financial incentives for teachers who pursue or earn certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
- State requires and finances mentoring for all novice teachers.
- Prospective educators must complete 11 or more weeks of student-teaching.*