In January Education Week published their 16th annual Quality Counts report that tracks key education indicators and grades each individual state. Our state earned a C (74.5) and ranked 38th as shown in the chart below. The overall rating was a slight decrease from the 75.4 earned in 2011. A link to a summary of the report and the state-by-state rankings can be found here. The highest overall score was a B+ (87.8) earned by Maryland. Washington is at best in the middle of the pack in most of the rated categories with the best being 16th on Chance for Success and the worst being 41st in School Finance, something is not a surprise to us.
• Chance for Success captures data in 13 areas over three broad life stages: the early childhood years, participation and performance in formal K-12 education, and adult educational attainment and workforce outcomes. In this category Washington earned a C+ and a ranking of 16th.
• K-12 Achievement evaluates the state’s performance on 18 criteria in three dimensions of performance; current state performance, improvements over time, and equity as measured by poverty-based achievement gaps. In this category Washington earned a C- and a ranking of 25th.
• Standards, Assessment, and Accountability examines state level policies related to these topics. In this category Washington earned a C+ and a ranking of 37th.
• The Teaching Profession measures 44 indicators in three areas of state policy: accountability for teacher quality, incentives and allocation, and efforts to build and support the capacity of the teacher workforce. In this category Washington earned a C- and a ranking of 26th.
• School Finance grades states on eight indicators in two dimensions of education finance: school spending patterns and the distribution of resources within a state. In this category Washington earned a C and a ranking of 26th. The adjusted spending per student shows Washington spending $9,329 per student that results in a ranking of 41st. The nationwide per student adjusted funding average is $11,665.
A more detailed summary of the scores can be found on the Education Week site and in this summary on the League of Education Voters site. One of the charts on this page shows our state increase in the achievement gap from 2011 to 2012 while most other states are experiencing decreases. This is one of the main drivers for the recent legislation promoting charter schools. To see how that battle is playing out in the media check out this post on the LEV site in favor of charters, one of many posted over the last two weeks. Then check this Seattle Times opinion piece by Wayne Au, a University of Washington professor suggesting charters are not the answer to closing the achievement gap.