These measures are not always easy to quantify, but in the current environment, it is important to find a way to recognize those states that have invested in their public schools in positive ways. And it is also important to identify states that have weakened public education—by seeking to privatize their schools or turn them into profit-making ventures, as well as states that have aggressively instituted a regime of high stakes testing that unfairly sorts, ranks and demoralizes students, educators and schools. Unlike other organizations such as The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, whose report cards rank states in relation to their willingness to privatize public education and weaken the status of the teaching profession, we take another path. We give low marks to states that devalue public education, attack teachers and place high stakes outcomes on standardized tests.
Prior to NCLB, nearly every state would have earned a grade of “A” in the criteria, No High Stakes Testing. This year, only 5 states earned a grade of “A.” Grades in the criteria Chance for Success are lower than they would have been a decade ago, due to rising numbers of students living in poverty and increased racial isolation in schools. And when it comes to school finance, our national grade is a dismal “D.”Still there are bright spots. Seven states have rejected charters, vouchers and other “reforms” that undermine community public schools. Three states — Alabama, Montana and Nebraska — each earn an “A” for their rejection of both high stakes testing and privatization. No state, however, received high grades across the board. For example, although Alabama scored high in resistance to high stakes testing and privatization, its schools are underfunded and far too many students live in poverty or near poverty in the state.
Here are state overall grades as well as state grades by each of the six criteria. You can find an interactive map with the results here.