Matthew Ladner

New education report card grades student success, Arizona lags behind

Posted on September 01, 2010 | Author: Matthew Ladner
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Today the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released a new book that provides a simple, direct way of comparing the effectiveness of public education in every state. I co-authored the Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform with Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Dan Lips and school choice expert Andrew LeFevre. ALEC is distributing the book to state lawmakers across the country.

For the Report Card, we rank all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on student test scores and learning gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). We focused in particular on the scores of low-income students who were not in special education programs from 2003 to 2009, the years in which all jurisdictions took the tests used by NAEP.

Our rankings give the same weight to overall performance (which states had the highest test scores) and overall gains (which states made the most progress over time). The table below shows the rankings:

 

NAEP Score Rankings on 4th and 8th Grade Math and Reading 

(Performance and Gains) for low-income students

 

Vermont

1

District of Columbia

26

Massachusetts

2

Georgia

27

Florida

3

Wyoming

28

New Hampshire

4

Connecticut

29

New York

5

California

30

Pennsylvania

6

Iowa

31

Kansas

7

Oregon

32

Texas

8

Nebraska

33

Montana

9

Missouri

34

New Jersey

10

Ohio

35

Alaska

11

Tennessee

36

Virginia

12

Kentucky

37

Indiana

13

Illinois

38

Maine

14

South Dakota

39

Hawaii

15

Alabama

40

Washington

16

North Carolina

41

Colorado

17

Utah

42

Nevada

18

Oklahoma

43

Delaware

19

Arkansas

44

Maryland

20

Arizona

45

Wisconsin

21

Mississippi

46

Idaho

22

Louisiana

47

Minnesota

23

New Mexico

48

North Dakota

24

Michigan

49

Rhode Island

25

West Virginia

50

 

 

South Carolina

51

Our rankings are not favorable for states with low test scores that didn’t improve over time, like Arizona. States fare well in the rankings if they had relatively high NAEP scores that continued to rise during those six years.

Florida scored No. 3 on the list because that state had high scores (ranked 11th overall) and made big gains (ranked first overall), even though a majority of Florida’s students come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This year the Arizona Legislature adopted a number of Florida’s previous education reforms that led to that state’s top ranking. Now, policymakers should use this new report card as a rallying cry to make sure those reforms are carried out in every Arizona public school.

The ALEC Report Card demonstrates once again why when it comes to K-12 reform: I’ll have what Florida is having!

Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

American Legislative Exchange Council: Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform

National Assessment of Educational Progress: Long-Term Trends

Goldwater Institute: On the Road to Excellence: Next Steps to Match Florida’s Success in Educating Children

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