States Get 'C' on Education Report Card


States manage only a "C" average in their efforts to meet new federal education reform standards, improve teacher quality and insure that students in poor schools get as much funding as those in richer schools, a new report card released Tuesday (1/8) by Education Week shows.

The report, "Quality Counts 2003: If I Can't Learn From You," does not include an overall grade for each state, but rather looks at state efforts in four areas: standards and accountability, teacher quality, school climate, and resources.

States with the overall highest grades: New York, Connecticut, Kentucky, Indiana, Massachusetts, West Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

States that generally faltered: North Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire, Montana, Mississippi, Arizona, Washington, Nebraska, Idaho and Iowa.

Not a single state earned an "A" for improving teacher quality and only nine states were in the "B" range on this score. South Carolina was the only state to get a "B+" while Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Kentucky and North Carolina got "B's." Earning "B minuses" were Indiana, Ohio and Oklahoma.

States also fared poorly on improving schools' learning environment: not one state got an "A." This category included school safety, parental involvement and class size. State grades for school climate ranged from a "B" in Minnesota, Idaho and Maine to an "F" in Mississippi.

Education Week found that even the highest-achieving states have big gaps to fill to meet the new standards and accountability requirements of the federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind.

In Connecticut, for example, 44 percent of the state's white 8th graders scored at or above proficient, but just 4 percent of black students and 9 percent of Hispanic students scored at the same level. The new education law requires that students in all subgroups show academic improvement.

And it appears that only five states Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Utah would meet all the testing requirements under the new education law if the provisions kicked in this school year. The education law requires that states test students every year in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school, beginning no later than the 2005-06 school year.

Only 16 states report test data in all the categories required under the new law, including achievement levels broken down by racial and ethnic minorities, disability, economic background and English proficiency. The 16 are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Florida, Kentucky, Maryland and New York earned "A's" for their overall school accountability standards while four states -- Iowa, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota -- flunked this category:.

State grades for providing enough education funds range from "A's" in Delaware, New York, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Vermont to "F's" in Arizona and Utah. Only Hawaii earned an "A" for making sure the state spent equitably for students who were in rich and poor districts alike. Hawaii tops the list in spending equity because the state education system is a single district.

Education Week is published by Editorial Projects in Education, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. The report was funded in part by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the same organization that funds


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