Special Report

How Education Helps Set the Course from Cradle to Career

January 15, 2019 2 min read
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Welcome to the leadoff edition of Quality Counts 2019, the first of three reports this year that will culminate in comprehensive A-F grades in September for state school systems and the nation as a whole based on a host of factors that help determine school quality.

This first report focuses on Education Week‘s Chance-for-Success Index. Launched in 2007, it surveys a range of social and educational conditions that, taken together, affect a person’s prospect of positive outcomes over the course of a lifetime.

This multifaceted assessment doesn’t cover everything—after all, who’s to define what amounts to something as subjective as “success” or to judge when someone meets that goal? But the 13 key indicators identified by the Education Week Research Center in compiling the index reflect many of the components crucial to any such definition, including family resources, educational access and completion, stable employment, and a range of other factors that trace the arc from early childhood to formal school and into the working world.

You’ll notice that the Chance-for-Success Index focuses on the educational environment and on outcomes, not specific policies. Factors such as family income, parental education levels, employment status, and college attainment are bound up with social, economic—and even geographic—forces that defy quick political fixes.

Instead, Education Week‘s goal is to chart the terrain policymakers face as they seek to build a solid pathway to educational and career success for those they serve, highlighting standouts and soft spots alike.

Work in Progress

States’ efforts are a work in progress and hardly uniform. The top performers in one category may fall short in others, while even the most-challenged states may show progress or achievement in certain areas. Since the 2008 Quality Counts report, the Research Center has used a “Best in Class” approach for these rankings, where the top performer gets the highest grade and others are graded relative to the front-runner.

And the Chance-for-Success Index is just a part of the picture in sketching the overall educational climate and achievement of the nation’s public school system as a whole.

In June, Education Week will publish the second installment of Quality Counts, examining school finance and the role that funding levels and funding equity play in educational quality.

September’s Quality Counts features the K-12 Achievement Index, capturing the academic performance of the nation and the states through the lens of test scores, graduation rates, and the poverty gap, among other factors.

And as a capstone, the September report will unveil Education Week‘s annual summative grades and scores, marking 23 years of this flagship exercise in school accountability. For more detail on individual states, be sure to download the State Highlights Reports prepared by the Education Week Research Center.

—The Editors

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A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2019 edition of Education Week as How Education Helps Establish a Trajectory From Cradle to Career


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