When it comes to the quality of education offered to students across the nation, Georgia is ranked near the top of the list.
According to an “Education Week” report, released recently, Georgia is ranked 7th in overall education quality among the states. The ranking places the state one spot higher than last year’s 8th-place standing.
“I think it shows that Georgia is doing a lot to ensure the future success of our students,” said Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Education.
“Education Week” is a product of Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), an independent, non-profit entity that also has other print and online products related to K-12 education. EPE's mission is to raise awareness and understanding of critical issues facing American schools, according to the publication’s web site.
Georgia’s Cardoza said the magazine’s study deals only with states, not individual districts. He added that “Education Week” uses several categories to come up with its ratings. The annual “Quality Counts” report is said to rely on key education outcomes that provide rankings and grades for each state, based on its commitment to improve educational policies and practices.
“The report gave Georgia a B-minus,” said Cardoza.
“We are very pleased with the overall marks that ‘Education Week’ gave Georgia for its commitment to education,” added State School Superintendent John Barge. “While there is still plenty of work to do to improve education in Georgia, it’s good to see others recognizing some of the improvements that are happening in our state through the extraordinary work of our students, teachers, and leaders.”
Attempts were made to contact officials with Clayton County Public Schools to get their reaction to the report, and see what improvements to their own school system they might want to highlight. But those attempts produced no substantive responses.
The “Education Week” report showed, what it said were, areas where Georgia displayed continual strengths, as well as growth. For strengths, it ranked Georgia as 6th, earning a grade of B-plus for having good “transition and alignment,” which addresses the articulations among early childhood education, K-12 education, and post-secondary institutions.
The report also indicated that Georgia showed strength in the development of an accountability system for teachers, and providing teachers with incentives for certification and performance, and enhancing building-level capacity skills and support.
The state received an A-minus for standards, assessment, and accountability policies and programs.
“Georgia is only one of ten states to have alignment between standards and assessment in the area of social studies, and is a national leader in portfolio assessments for students,” said Cardoza.
In areas of growth, Georgia saw a significant increase in the number of student achievement indicators during the 2010-2011 school years, the report said. For example, Georgia displayed the 4th-largest reduction in eighth-grade “poverty-gap closure” in mathematics, and the fourth-grade students had the 6th-largest gain in scale scores on the National Assessment of Education Process (NAEP) reading assessment, according to the report.
However, the report showed that Georgia ranked 24th in the overall school finance analysis, and only 38th in per-pupil expenditures.
“This illustrates that, while Georgia may not rank highly in the amount it spends per child, our education leaders and teachers are doing an extremely effective job at content delivery and ensuring students have the tools to succeed,” said Cardoza.
“This report demonstrates that improving education for Georgia’s students is more than evaluating a single test score,” added Superintendent Barge. “We will continue to focus on raising the quality of education, so our students are ultimately prepared for college and careers.”