Quality Counts 2010: Fresh Course, Swift Current--Momentum and Challenges in the New Surge Toward Common Standards

Jack Byers

For better or for worse, Education Week’s annual Quality
Counts feature, now celebrating its thirteenth birthday, is the closest
thing we have to a comprehensive annual report card on American K-12
education. Unfortunately, it’s fraught with methodological weaknesses. (Last year’s
was too.) The state-by-state grades--which will inevitably grab most of
the headlines--are actually the least reliable component. The grading
is at times arbitrary (teacher experience is used to measure teacher
quality, an unproven correlation), unfair (is the annual income of
someone who graduated high school in 1965 really a good reflection of a
state’s education system in 2010?), and redundant (NAEP scores are
factored into both the Chance for Success and K-12 Achievement indices,
and both children’s family income and statewide adult income are
factored into Chance for Success). Such problems are nicely illuminated
by CREDO’s Margaret Raymond in a new piece in Education Next. Raymond
also recalculates some of the state grades on a fairer scale, with
striking results. We’re glad to see people are beginning to cast a
critical eye on QC. Still and all, the raw data that EPE gathers are
valuable and reward analysis. Also deserving a look is this year’s focus
theme--common standards, of course--and a new “Math Progress Index.”
The report is available here--free to online subscribers, or in print for a small fee.

Editorial Projects in Education
January 2010