Massachusetts once again topped the rest of the nation for a fifth year in the Education Week Research Center's Quality Counts 2019 report, earning the only A- in its Chance-For-Success Index.
Rounding out the top five are four B- rankings in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Minnesota, while New Mexico received the lowest score with a D-. The nation, as a whole, received a C- grade.
The results give feedback designed to help state leaders zero in on areas that need improvement, and they are measured on 13 factors that gauge education-related opportunities in three stages: early foundations, school years and outcomes.
Through this index, trends in the national education scene emerge. For example, Massachusetts, which ranks in the top 10 for eight of the indicators, gets help from strong socioeconomic factors that include the fact that 60% of the state’s parents earned a college degree. The state also has strong math and reading test scores, with 50.8% of fourth graders proficient at reading. Post-secondary rates also separate Massachusetts from the pack, coming in second in the nation for 18-24-year-olds enrolled at a college or university.
The region a state's located in also makes a difference. Schools in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions scored highest by providing the best opportunities for success, while schools in the South and Southwest scored the lowest. Minnesota, located in the Midwest, scored high at No. 5, as did Iowa at No. 7.
These trends are consistent over time. The nation’s score has stayed about the same since 2008, the first time the current scoring system was used. Twenty-nine states improved their score by less than a point or declined, and about 10 saw their scores fall by more than one point. Four places stood out as having increased their chance of student success, including the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland and Mississippi.