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Quality Counts: Arizona and Florida State Highlights

Author: Helios Education Foundation

January 14, 2015

Recently, Education Week released their annual Quality Counts report which grades each state in the nation on their overall education performance.  This year’s report provides overall letter grades for each state as well as grades in three specific categories: K-12 Achievement, School Finance and Chance for Success.  The nation received an overall grade of C.  The highest performing state is Massachusetts with a grade of B. Arizona and Florida, the two states that Helios serves, received D+ and C respectively. 

Arizona
Arizona ranks 47th among the 50 states on this report card.  In achievement, Arizona finished behind the national average of C- and earned a D+ rating.   The report also gives a D rating in School Finance – putting the state at 46th.  And the Chance for Success index was rated a C- for the state.   The Chance for Success index incorporates 13 indicators, including family income and parents’ education levels. 

Florida
Florida ranks 28th among the 50 states on this report card.   In achievement, Florida was given a C in the category, while the nation earned a C-.  This year’s report also gives Florida a D+ and No. 37 ranking in school finance  and a C and No. 34 ranking for the Chance for Success index.

 

National

Arizona

Florida

Overall Rating

C

D+

C

K-12 Achievement

C+

D+

C

School Finance

C

D

D+

Chance for Success

C+

C-

C

 

Early Education Index

In addition, this year’s report took a specific look at early-childhood education as its special theme and examined how new academic demands and accountability pressures are altering the learning environment for young children.  The Education Week Research Center gave the nation a D+ on the Early Education Index.   The District of Columbia ranks first in the nation in early education with a B+.  Florida earned a C- and number 18 rank in that category while Arizona earned a D+ and number 38 rank.

“This data illustrates that there is opportunity for improvement in early education programs and services for our young children in both Arizona and Florida,” said Dr. Karen Ortiz, Vice President and Program Director, Early Grade Success.  “The report also illustrates the complexity of early childhood education programs, services and policies in both states which spans the public and private sectors.”

Progress in Arizona and Florida

Although we know there is still work to do in ensuring all students receive a high-quality education, we are also encouraged by the progress that’s being made in both states.  For example, Florida has made great strides in closing the achievement gap.   According to 2013 NAEP (National Assessment for Education Progress) results, Florida was the only state in the nation to have narrowed the achievement gap between White and African American students at both 4th and 8th grades in reading and math. 

In Arizona, there is a focused effort on ensuring that students are better prepared when they graduate from high school.  For example, the class of 2013 was the first class that was required to take four years of math instead of three in order to graduate.   The increased requirements will   help Arizona students be better prepared for success in college and career.  

In addition, both Arizona and Florida have adopted and are implementing more rigorous standards throughout K-12 classrooms.  The new Standards, known in Arizona as Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards and in Florida as Florida Standards, propel students to reach higher, engage teachers to instruct with increased rigor and ensure graduates are successful as they pursue a postsecondary certificate or degree.    

“We applaud both Arizona and Florida for their efforts in taking steps to improve educational performance and student success,” said Dr. Stacy Carlson, Vice President and Program Director, College and Career Readiness.  “While there is still work to do, we are taking steps in the right direction.”  

To read more about the Quality Counts report including the Early Education Index, click below.

Arizona

Florida

Category: Education Issues

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