Ed-Tech Policy From Our Research Center

Quality Counts 2021: Educational Opportunities and Performance in California

By EdWeek Research Center — January 19, 2021 1 min read

Based on a comprehensive analysis of data, the Quality Counts report card answers a key question: Where does my state rank for educational opportunities and performance?

States are graded and ranked in three categories: Chance for Success (January), School Finance (June), and K-12 Achievement (September). A state’s overall grade, published in September, is the average of its scores on the three separate indices tracked for the report card.

Chance for Success: Gauging Educational Opportunities

The EdWeek Research Center developed the Chance-for-Success Index to better understand the role that education plays in promoting positive outcomes across an individual’s lifetime. Based on an original state-by-state analysis, this index combines information from 13 indicators that span a person’s life from cradle to career. Those indicators fall into three sub-sections: early foundations, school years, and adult outcomes.

The index evaluates each state using a range of measuring sticks, including:

  • How educated are parents?
  • What share of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool?
  • Are K-12 students proficient in reading and math?
  • What’s the high school graduation rate?
  • What percentage of adults have steady employment?

Diving into the findings, California earns a C-plus in the Chance-for-Success category and ranks 37th. The average state earns a B-minus.

Early Foundations: Are Kids Getting Off to a Good Start?

For early foundations, which examines factors that help children get off to a good start, California earns a C-plus and ranks 46th. The average state posts a B.

School Years: How Are Students Faring in School?

California receives a C-plus for the school years, a sub-category focusing on metrics related to pre-K enrollment through postsecondary participation. It finishes 30th in the nation in this area. By comparison, the nation as a whole earns a C-plus.

Adult Outcomes: Are Adults Finding Opportunities for Success?

In the area of adult outcomes, based on postsecondary educational attainment and workforce indicators, California’s grade is a C. It ranks 26th in the nation. The national average is a C-plus.

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