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The 2016 Quality Counts Rankings Put Florida in Context

Education Week recently released its Quality Counts 2016 report, which grades and scores each state on three indices developed by the Education Week Research Center:

  • Chance for Success Index --- made up of 13 indicators designed to provide a cradle-to-grave perspective on the role of education in promoting positive outcomes in a person’s life;
  • K-12 Achievement Index --- made up of 18 indicators designed to capture academic performance, learning gains over time, and poverty-based gaps (equity); and
  • School Financial Analysis --- looks at school spending patterns and distribution of funding across school districts.

States are scored on a “best-in-class” basis where, for each indicator, the top state scores 100 points. The scores for other states are based on their performance relative to the top state. A state’s overall score is the average of the three graded indices.

For 2016, Florida received an overall score of 72.4 points, which earns the state a grade of C-, and an overall rank of 30th among the 50 states and District of Columbia. This is slightly below the national average of 74.4 points (grade of C). In 2015, Florida ranked 28th among the 50 states and District of Columbia with an overall grade of C.

Florida ranked 37th on the Chance for Success Index with a score of 75.1 and a grade of C. For the cluster of indicators that measure early opportunities and establishing early foundations, Florida’s grade improved from a C+ in 2015 to a B- in 2016. Florida’s grade of C on the indicators measuring childhood outcomes, and grade of C- on the indicators measuring adult outcomes, did not change from 2015 to 2016.

Florida ranked 11th on the K-12 Achievement Index with a score of 73.9 and a grade of C. Florida’s score on the indicators measuring student achievement levels decreased slightly, from a D+ in to a D in 2016. The same is true for the indicators measuring student achievement gains --- Florida dropped from a C+ in 2015 to a C in 2016. For those indicators measuring pre-school poverty gap and poverty-gap changes over time, Florida graded an A- in both 2015 and 2016.

Florida ranked 38th on School Finance with a score of 68.3 and a grade of D+. Florida continues to score well on those indicators that measure funding equity, receiving grades of A- in both 2015 and 2016. This suggests that Florida is doing an excellent job providing funding to school districts with higher concentrations of low-income students.

Florida continues to score poorly, however, on those indicators that measure per-pupil spending levels, receiving grades of F in both 2015 and 2016. Less than one percent (0.7) of Florida students attends schools in districts with per-pupil expenditures at or above the U.S. average. This ranks Florida last among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Despite Florida’s continued progress, Florida remains in the middle of the pack, with 33 of the states and District of Columbia earning mid-range grades (between C- and C+). The most obvious need for improvement is in the area of per-student spending. With new leadership in the House and Senate, Florida lawmakers will have an opportunity to evaluate the state’s $23.9 billion investment in education to make sure the moneys are invested wisely and where they will do the most good --- in the classrooms.

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