5 Things QC Tells Us about US Education

The nation earned a friendly C from Education Week’s Quality Counts 2011 report issued this week.  “Quality Counts provides fresh results for crucial policy-and-performance areas that constitute the annual State of the States review.”
Maryland—for the third year in a row—ranks first when all categories are taken into account, earning the nation’s highest grade, a B-plus. It is followed by Massachusetts and New York, each of which received a B. In contrast, the District of Columbia, Nebraska, and South Dakota received grades of D-plus, with a majority of states earning a C or C-plus. The nation as a whole earned a C, the same grade as last year.
QC is an interesting mixture of past and potential, the dashboard measures academic performance, chance to learn, transitions and alignment, and school finance.
The five things that jumped out at me from this years QC include
1. The rise of the south—with the exception of Mississippi (#48) most southern states are in the top half; Virginia, Florida and Arkansas are #4, 5, and 6.  A good deal of credit goes to the combination of SREB and SGA—governors including Riley, Hunt, Clinton, and Bush x2—for 20 years of hard work.
2. The disastrous state of education in the western US—none are in the top 25.  The academically complacent northwest comes in #33, 43, 44 (WA, OR, ID).  Time for western governors to step up.
3.The nation gets a D+ for achievement with little change in reacent years.  Just think about the long term implication of having a D+ education system as we attempt to recovery from a global recession.
4. A category like Alignment should be an automatic A right?  It just means paying attention to transitions that kids make in your state, but only five states get full credit here (AR, MD, TN, TX, WV)
5. Like school board meetings almost everywhere, the report is preoccupied with the fiscal implications of the recession.  The good news is that there is some discussion of the important role of innovation in improving academic and operational efficiency.
Check out QC for a sobering state of affairs in American education.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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