About These Reports
The 16th annual edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts continues the report’s tradition of tracking key education indicators and grading the states on their policy efforts and outcomes. This year’s special theme—American schooling from an international perspective—examines the nation’s place among the world’s public education systems and provides a fresh look at the political, social, and cultural challenges the United States faces in preparing its students for the workforce demands of an interconnected world economy.
The special theme is complemented by newly updated 50-state information on policies and conditions in five of the areas monitored by the report on an ongoing basis as part of Quality Counts’ State of the States framework: Chance for Success; K-12 achievement; standards, assessments, and accountability; the teaching profession; and school finance. Most of the indicators that appear in the report are based on original analyses and state-survey data from the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, supplemented by information published by other organizations.
To provide a comprehensive perspective on state policy and performance, the 2012 State Highlights Reports integrate findings from the 2011 and 2012 editions of Quality Counts. This approach allows us to capture state standings across the full set of six topical areas that comprise the report’s state-grading rubric.
The overall state scores and letter grades awarded in Quality Counts are based on the following categories: Chance for Success; K-12 achievement; standards, assessments, and accountability; the teaching profession; school finance; and transitions and alignment. This year’s state reports also highlight challenges posed by a difficult economic climate, as states continue to make cuts to policies and programs in attempt to balance their budgets.
Overall findings from Quality Counts show that some states perform consistently well or poorly across the full range of graded categories. However, a closer examination of the results reveals that most states post a strong showing in at least one area. This suggests that while broad evaluations of state rankings and performance can be useful, a deeper reading of the results presented in this State Highlights Report will provide a more nuanced perspective on the educational condition of the nation and the states.
Editorial Projects in Education Research Center January 2012