Special Report
States

The Nation’s Schools: A Bird’s-Eye View

September 03, 2019 1 min read

Time now for the big reveal: Who’s on top and who lags behind when it comes to the nation’s K-12 school systems—and why?

This third and final installment of Quality Counts 2019 pulls together all the strands of Education Week’s year-long dive into the strengths and weaknesses of K-12 education based on a wealth of national and state-level data, from test scores and diplomas to spending and socioeconomic factors that can affect student readiness for the K-12 system, for college, and for lifelong achievement.

Earlier installments issued partial grades for the states and the nation in the area of school finance and for the Education Research Center’s trademark Chance for Success Index, which weighs a host of indicators aiming to gauge how education factors into lifelong opportunity. This latest report folds in reading and math performance, graduation rates, and other achievement data to come up with overall grades for the nation as a whole and for each of the states.

The picture that emerges is one of limited progress in a K-12 landscape that has been mired in mediocrity for the more than two decades that Quality Counts has been issuing grades for the nation and the individual states. While a handful of high-achievers continue to build on their success, and while some states that perennially fall short find ways to shine in key areas, the end result remains a C—keeping the issue of how to spark improvement before policymakers for another year.

This report unpacks the data behind that national grade and more. It offers snapshots of the top state performers and the challenges they still face; highlights what low-scoring states are doing to boost achievement for their students; and teases out regional patterns that continue to define the state of the nation’s schools.

And for more detail on the individual states, including where each of them stand on the dozens of indicators that go into the report’s Chance for Success, K-12 Achievement, and School Finance Indexes, be sure to download the State Highlights Reports compiled by the Education Week Research Center.

—The Editors

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