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State Report Cards: Insights from Quality Counts 2013

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It's Education Week's turn to get out the red pencil and hand out grades with the publication of the 17th edition of its annual Quality Counts report.

States received both numeric scores and letter grades, just like students do. Maryland fared best, with a B+ (87.5 percent), followed by Massachusetts (84.1), New York (83.1) and Virginia (82.9), which all received a solid B. Joining the top 10 for the first time is Kentucky, which received a B- (80.1).

The nation as a whole received a C+, and the overwhelming majority of states—37—received grades in the Cs. California came in 36th in its class, with a C (75.5).

In "States Show Spotty Progress on Education Gauges," Amy M. Hightower explains that states were measured on educating students based on the following criteria:

  • Chance for success, which captures 13 indicators spanning childhood to adulthood;

  • Transitions and alignment, tracking state-policy efforts to better coordinate the connections between K-12 schooling and other segments of the education pipeline; and,

  • School finance, which examines a set of eight school-finance indicators.

Besides this in-depth analysis, the special report looks at how a school's social and disciplinary atmosphere can have a profound impact on student achievement.

One story, for instance, covers a shift in discipline policies based on "what works."

An interactive feature focuses on "The Painful Journey Toward Schoolhouse Safety and Security."

The package also examines factors often omitted from the school climate discussion: the role of parents and community groups—and even of a school's physical design and layout--in the learning environment.

To begin your own in-depth review of our in-depth report, access the index of stories here.

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