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Education Week: Quality Counts 2013

January 11, 2013

Quality Counts 2013
Source: Education Week
From press release (PDF):

As a shocked nation struggles to come to terms with the recent school shootings in Newtown, Conn., policymakers, school leaders, and the public alike have renewed their attention to the need to ensure a safe and secure environment in which students can grow and learn, and in which educators can teach. At the same time, policymakers and school leaders are focusing intently on the full range of factors that contribute to an academically successful school climate—strong peer and student-teacher relationships, effective and positive ways to address student misbehavior, supports for social and emotional development, and the involvement of parents and community groups. These issues are at the heart of the 2013 edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report: Code of Conduct: Safety, Discipline, and School Climate.

A collaboration between the Education Week newsroom and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Quality Counts 2013 investigates the impact of a school’s social and disciplinary environment on students’ ability to learn and on the teachers and administrators tasked with guiding them. The report’s journalism takes an in-depth look at a range of school-climate factors—including strong and positive peer interactions, a sense of safety and security, and school disciplinary policies and practices—that help to lay the groundwork for student achievement.

To complement the reporting, the EPE Research Center conducted an original survey of more than 1,300 educators, who shared their insights and opinions on school climate and discipline in their schools. Highlights of the study are featured in the report. … Against this backdrop, the annual Quality Counts report card—the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education—also chronicles the challenges the nation and many states continue to face in delivering a high-quality education to all students. For 2013, the nation receives a C-plus when graded across the six distinct areas of policy and performance tracked by the report, marking a slight improvement since last year. For the fifth year in a row, Maryland earns honors as the top-ranked state, posting the nation’s highest overall grade, the only B-plus awarded.

Massachusetts ranks second with a B and is followed closely by New York and then by Virginia. These perennial top-performers took the same slots in last year’s rankings. Arkansas rounds out the top five with a grade of B-minus. Kentucky (ranked 10th) joins the top-10 states for the first time this year, while Florida (sixth) regains its top-10 standing after falling from the list in 2012. At the other end of the grading scale, South Dakota for the second year in a row takes the bottom spot, with a grade of D-plus. In all, 20 states receive grades of C or lower, a tally that includes the District of Columbia.

New findings from the report’s annual Chance-for-Success Index—which captures the role of education in a person’s life, from cradle to career—show the country struggling to provide opportunities to succeed and many states lagging far behind the national leaders. The U.S. as a whole receives a C-plus on the index. Massachusetts remains at the top of the national rankings for the sixth year running, earning the only A-minus and followed closely by Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont, each posting grades of B-plus. Mississippi, Nevada, and New Mexico receive the lowest scores, with grades of D-plus or lower. Scores on the Chance-for-Success Index fell one point from last year and remain below pre-recession levels, due in part to continued weakness in conditions that support early schooling success, including family income and parental employment.

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