2011 marks the quenceanera of Quality Counts—and
the report has stepped into the limelight with typical stir. Much ado
has already—and rightfully—been made about one of the report’s metrics: the Chance-for-Success
Index, which ranks states’ education prowess based on inane indicators like the
wealth and education levels of their adult populations. The inclusion of this
index tends to inflate the overall grades of—you guessed it—wealthier states.
So it should come as no surprise that Maryland takes gold, and Massachusetts
and New Jersey tie for silver in the annual ranking. Still, there’s plenty of
worthwhile material in the report to peruse. First, the web module made available for this
users to adjust the weighting of different variables (for instance, you can
go ahead and eliminate the dubious Chance-for-Success Index, if you’d like). Second,
the report dissects education-spending and -finance policies, examining states’
responses to the recession. On the positive end, eleven states have loosened
class-size requirements; on the negative, ten states have shortened the school
day or year. The report notes that, in order to truly dig out from financial
instability, states will need to be more creative than they’ve been to date. They’ll
also need to think bigger and start tackling some big-ticket items like
teacher-compensation structures and tenure laws. This all sounds very familiar
we’ve been saying.
Editorial Projects in
Education Research Center, “Quality
Counts 2011: Uncertain Forecast—Education Adjusts to a New Economic Reality,” (Washington, D.C.: Editorial Projects in Education
Research Center and Education Week, January 2011).