The nation’s average C grade on education hasn't changed since 1997, when the annual assessment of the nation’s K-12 education system was first created by Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report.
The last year analyzed and reported on this year – a 75.6, grade C – was no different. Overall, 32 states receive grades between C+ and C-.
“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,” editors of the report state. “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.”
The third and final installment of the “Quality Counts 2019” report gives a final report card ranking to each state based on a wide range of academic, school finance, and socio-economic factors, assigning them grades ranging from A through F.
States with the highest overall grades are concentrated in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. However, some states in other regions posted strong marks in at least one of the graded categories.
New Jersey and Massachusetts earned the highest grades of B+. The remaining top five states are Connecticut, Maryland and New Hampshire.
The worst ranked state, New Mexico with a D grade, was followed by Nevada, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Education Week Research Center evaluated how well the nation and the states have progressed in providing educational opportunities and outcomes to students’ prospects for success over the course of a lifetime; how much states spend on schools and funds are distributed; and test scores and graduation rates, among other outcomes.
The first two installments of the report released in January and this summer issued partial grades for states and the nation in the area of school finance and the center's Chance for Success Index, which weighs several indicators designed to gauge how education factors into lifelong opportunity. The last installment factors in reading and math performance, graduation rates, and other achievement data.
Despite performing in the top five, New Hampshire for example, posted one of the most notable declines in indicators assessed. The report highlights challenges high-performing states face, as well as what low-scoring states are doing to boost achievement for their students, such as in Nevada, which posted the greatest improvement.
Following the Silver State in posting improvements are the District of Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington.
The largest declines were seen in West Virginia, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii and Indiana.
“Pursuing educational progress remains a slow and challenging task for many states,” says Evie Blad of Education Week.
The findings come as states continue to implement their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal education law passed in 2015 allowing states to have broader flexibility when evaluating the performance of their schools.