The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

National Education Report Card Gives Nation Low Marks in Achievement and Equity

January 21, 2011 - Posted by Avril Lighty

The nation's schools received an average grade of "C" in the latest edition of Education Week's "Quality Counts," the most comprehensive assessment of American education.

Education Week's annual report card, which was released Tuesday, grades the U.S. and each state across six indicators:

  • Chance for Success Index, which examines the importance of education throughout a person's lifetime. The nation received a "C+.":
  • K-12 Achievement Index, which evaluates student achievement based on current performance, past improvement and the socioeconomic achievement gap. The nation received a "D+."
  • Transitions and Alignment, which tracks state's efforts to connect K-12 education to other educational opportunities like early childhood education and college readiness. The nation received a "C+."
  • School Finance, which evaluates spending patterns and how equitably money is spent among schools in each state. The nation received a "C."
  • Standards, Assessments, and Accountability. The nation received a "B."
  • Teaching Profession, which assesses state's teacher policies relating to accountability, building and supporting the workforce, and incentives and allocation. The nation received a "C."

For the third year in a row, Maryland earned the nation’s highest overall grade, a B+, with Massachusetts and New York each receiving a B. The majority of states earned grades of C+ or lower. South Dakota, Nebraska, and the District of Columbia got the lowest scores.

This year's report also included a special study of state education-finance policies, especially in regard to stimulus funding, as well as an analysis of the distribution of those funds.

"If the turbulence and waves of hardship brought by the recession have taught us anything, it's that America will sink or swim in a global economy based on its success educating all of its citizens, not just a privileged few, to high standards," said Christopher B. Swanson, vice president of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. "If we are going to continue advancing as a nation, then strong, sustained, and equitable educational improvement must become the norm for students in every state rather than the exception that it is today."

The "Quality Counts" report card comes as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESEA, enacted in 1965, is the main federal education law that provides K-12 funding to the states. It was last reauthorized in 2002 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Leadership Conference has long supported the goals of ESEA and has urged Congress to reauthorize and strengthen the law, while maintaining accountability for all students and doing more to help raise standards, improve schools, and support teachers.

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