Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 9
QUALITY COUNTS 2019
School Finance categories were published in the January
and June installments, respectively.
Across the metrics, some key themes and trends
emerge. Here are the research center's five takeaways
from the analysis.
School finance results allowed New Jersey to eclipse
Massachusetts as the top-ranked state. Funding grades
also separated some other leading states from their
New Jersey ranks third in the nation for school finance
with a score of 89.3 (B-plus) and outpaces Massachusetts,
which ranks 11th at 83.4 (B). New Jersey has an advantage over Massachusetts in both spending and equity. It
ranks sixth for per-pupil expenditures at $16,543, while
Massachusetts is 13th at $14,529 once figures are adjusted for regional cost differences.
Ultimately, state policymakers determine how much
of the funding pie gets allocated to education. New Jersey devotes 4.8 percent of its total taxable resources to
education, ranking third nationally. By contrast, Massachusetts commits just 3.3 percent of state resources to
K-12 schools and ranks 31st.
While Massachusetts excels in many areas of student
achievement, it doesn't lead the pack in the area of
funding equity, ranking 41st in that category. Its wealthneutrality score is 33rd in the nation, highlighting that
wealthier districts in the state get more funding than
their poorer peers and that the disparity is more significant than in most other states. In comparison, New Jersey places seventh on this measure.
Wyoming provides another example where funding
grades have an impact in a state's overall score. Its sixthplace finish in the Quality Counts rankings is driven
largely by its success in school finance. It finishes first,
nationally, in the funding category-far ahead of its geographic neighbors. In comparison, Montana stands in
27th place for finance and Idaho finishes last. Wyoming
has been the top state for school finance over the past
decade largely because it has been the most successful in
balancing strong spending with equity across districts-
it finishes first for spending and seventh for equity. No
other state lands in the top 10 for both categories. At
$18,090, its per-pupil spending (adjusted for regional
cost differences) is third-highest in the nation.
Within the equity arena, it finishes third for its wealthneutrality score, indicating that it spends nearly the same
amount on its property-poor districts and their more
affluent counterparts. It devotes 5.1 percent of its total
taxable resources to K-12 schooling, the second-highest
share in the nation. In fact, Wyoming posts a top 10 ranking on five of the report card's eight finance indicators.
In stark contrast, one of Wyoming's neighbors in the
region, Idaho, has consistently received the lowest finance scores since 2008. It's the only state to rank below
40th in both spending and equity.
Regional patterns continue to be clear-cut. Major
differences in educational performance separate highperforming school systems in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions from lower-performing systems elsewhere
in the nation. Where you grow up has an impact on the
educational opportunities available to you.
Minnesota and Wyoming are the only states in the
overall top 10 that aren't located in the Northeast or MidAtlantic regions. By contrast, all 10 of the lowest-ranked
states are in the South, Southwest, or West.
Results on the Chance for Success Index illustrate the
continuing regional disparities that exist on key economic and educational indicators. Five of the six states
with the best Chance for Success scores are located in
an East Coast corridor between New Hampshire and
Virginia. These states often top the rankings for both
academic outcomes and the underlying socioeconomic
factors that can contribute to them. For instance, Massachusetts, which has the highest 4th grade reading and
8th grade math test scores, is also third in family income
and fourth in parental education levels. Similarly, New
Hampshire is third in both 4th grade reading and 8th
grade math scores. It's first in family income and third for
A snapshot of the lowest-scoring states on the grading
map for Chance for Success would zero in on the South
and Southwest, including Louisiana, Nevada, and New
Mexico at the bottom of the grading scale. These states
have poor test scores and fewer resources to support
student success. Louisiana is last for 8th grade math test
scores and 49th for family income. Nevada is on the lowest rung of the ladder for parental education and 42nd for
4th grade reading scores. Similarly, New Mexico has the
lowest rank for family income and is last for 4th grade
But socioeconomic factors don't entirely predict a
state's academic fortunes. Florida finishes 43rd for family income, but ninth for 4th grade reading achievement.
Kentucky ranks 41st for family income and 39th for parent
education, but stands 22nd in 4th grade reading.
The Best Get Better
Some top-tier states stand out because they continue to
improve in certain areas despite already occupying a high
place in the rankings.
These states typically have strong economies and welleducated populations serving as long-term advantages.
For instance, New Jersey, the top-ranked overall state
in 2019, is 17th for improvement in its K-12 Achievement
score from 2008 to 2019 with a solid gain of 4.5 points.
Connecticut, ranked third overall in 2019, has the secondbest improvement in K-12 Achievement over that span, an
increase of 9.0 points. By contrast, 12 states declined by
a point or more in K-12 Achievement during that period.
Several traditionally high-performing states fell the most:
Vermont (-5.0), North Dakota (-5.0), and Maryland (-4.6).
Look to the West
Four of the five states with the greatest improvements
in their overall scores since last year are in the West.
Nevada (+1.8), the District of Columbia (+1.6), California (+1.5), Oregon (+1.1), and Washington (+1.0) saw the
largest overall gains from 2018 to 2019. Nevada's uptick
moved it out of last place in the overall rankings for the
first time since 2015. The increase in its high school graduation rate from 2014 to 2017 is the second-largest in the
nation. It also made solid gains in adult educational attainment, parental education levels, and family income.
California improved its overall finance score the most
since last year, gaining 3.3 points. Its gains were fueled by
major increases in per-pupil spending and the percent of
total taxable resources spent on education. The percent
of students in districts with per-pupil expenditures at or
above the U.S. average also increased from 23.8 percent
in the 2018 analysis to 37.4 in this year's report.
Silver Linings-or Not
Viewed over more than a decade, the nation's overall
performance hasn't changed much, but there has been
greater progress on some indicators than others.
The 2019 results can be compared with data from
the 2008 report, the year that the three current Quality
Counts indices were first established with their present
scoring system. Over that period, the nation's average
score across those three categories has barely budged,
increasing by just half a point.
A closer look at the data, however, reveals that outcomes on particular metrics making up those overall
scores stand out for improvement, while results for others merely inched up or declined.
For instance, the percent of children with at least one
parent holding a postsecondary credential increased by
7.5 points, and the percent of children with at least one
parent who is steadily employed improved by 5.4.
But the percent of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool over the past decade only grew by 1.9 percentage
points. And the share of total taxable resources spent on
education declined from 3.6 to 3.3 percent.
The Big Picture
Catch up on how the
nation and states fared
on the Chance for Success
and School Finance
indices, first published
in the Jan. 16 and
June 5 installments
of Quality Counts.
reports assess each
state's performance on
a basket of key
Dive Deeper Into
Take an interactive tour
into detailed state and
national grades in
critical areas of
See how your state
stacks up when it
comes to K-12
Chance for Success
By Evie Blad
The nation's latest C grade on Education
Week's annual Quality Counts report-the
mark it's often received since the annual assessment of the country's K-12 system was
created in 1997-is another sign that pursuing educational progress remains a slow
and challenging task for many states.
While moving the needle on student
achievement has always been a complicated task, educators and lawmakers have
seen some changes in the landscape in
recent years: Most recently, states have
been handed renewed authority by federal
policymakers under the Every Student Succeeds Act, and there are signs of an uptick
of public concern about education.
If harnessed properly, that momentum
could help jump-start the changes necessary to improve the work of schools, educators said. But there is no silver bullet, and it
will take a consistent commitment to make
Quality Counts synthesizes 39 factors
related to school finance, academic performance, and broader conditions related to
achievement, like family income and preschool enrollment.
The findings come as states continue to
implement their plans under ESSA, the
federal education law passed in 2015 that
gives them broader flexibility in evaluating
They also come as the public shows continued concern about funding for public
education and as teacher activists seek to
harness the momentum they've generated
in recent years through a wave of walkouts,
protests, and strikes as they pushed for
raises, policy changes, and more resources
for their classrooms.
A Focus on the States
While much of the broader political discussion is focused on national issues, the
crosscurrents of education policy debates
put states at the center, educators, administrators, and policy advocates say. And,
while improving the nation's educational
outcomes is an urgent task, there are no
easy answers. It will take sustained public
pressure and thoughtful, multi-sector work
by policymakers to drive improvements,
regardless of how their states stack up in
national rankings, in their view.
"There's beginning to be an awakening
that Washington isn't going to come in and
help on this issue," said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, which advocates for school funding and
equity in New Jersey. "People are starting
to wake up to the fact that the unit of authority that can change things is in the state
capital, and in order to change the trajectory in a state, it's going to take time, and it
requires a high level of sustained effort and
advocacy on multiple fronts."
Sciarra, whose organization led a longrunning legal challenge to New Jersey's
school funding system, credits such ongoPAGE 11 >
EDUCATION WEEK | September 4, 2019 | www.edweek.org | 9
Education Week - September 4, 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 4, 2019
Education Week - September 4, 2019
Quality counts: Grading The States
Open-Source Science Curriculum Makes Debut
Are Schools Required To Be Trauma-Sensitive?
Google Tool Fuels Debate About Teaching Writing
In Battle Against Bullies, Schools Target Parents
Teacher-Drivers Keep Wheels On the Bus Going Round
What the Research Says
What Are Threat Assessments And How Do Schools Use Them?
The Challenges Ahead For Advanced Placement
School Leaders: Avoid This Move
Letters to the Editor
EdWeek Top School Jobs
You Skipped a Step’
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CA1
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CA2
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - Google Tool Fuels Debate About Teaching Writing
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 2
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 4
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - In Battle Against Bullies, Schools Target Parents
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - What the Research Says
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - What Are Threat Assessments And How Do Schools Use Them?
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 8
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 9
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 10
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 11
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 12
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 13
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 14
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 15
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 16
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 17
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 18
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 19
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 20
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 21
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 22
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - The Challenges Ahead For Advanced Placement
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - School Leaders: Avoid This Move
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - 26
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - You Skipped a Step’
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CA3
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CA4
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CW1
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CW2
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CW3
Education Week - September 4, 2019 - CW4