The new Quality Counts education report has been released by Education Week, and the inevitable spin is on from the Kentucky Department of Education in their News Release 14-003.
The first table in the department’s press release shows Kentucky’s ranking in the various areas Quality Counts examined between 2011 and 2014. The table below extracts the three most recent years of those state rankings (I don’t show 2011 because Quality Counts didn’t consider all of the listed areas that year).
Quality Counts ranked Kentucky against the other states in six areas:
• Chance for Success
• K-12 Achievement
• School Finance
• Transitions & Alignment
• Standards, Assessments and Accountability
• Teaching Profession
Also note that Quality Counts computed an overall state rank, somehow, across those six areas in 2012 and 2013. This is the data I show in the row with the red typeface as listed by the Kentucky Department of Education in their row titled “Overall Score” (Which isn’t a correct title. These are overall ranks. See last year’s KDE News Release 13-003).
In any event, over the past year we all heard ad nauseum about how wonderful it was that Quality Counts rated Kentucky’s education system as the 10th best in the nation.
Well, consider this: the bottom row in the table, titled “Average of Rankings,” which I separately computed, is the simple average of the six Quality Counts subarea rankings for each year, rounded to the nearest point. Notice that those averages look quite different from, and lower than, the overall state rankings Quality Counts somehow developed for Kentucky.
I don’t know what scoring scheme led to the inflated “Overall Score” ranking figures for Kentucky listed above, but it certainly wasn’t based on an equal averaging of the six subareas.
In fact, it looks like Quality Counts used some sort of weighting scheme to come up with its final rankings. And, that weighting apparently gave undue credit to the “Transitions and Alignment” and “Teaching Profession” subareas over other areas like “K-12 Achievement,” which to me are more important indicators of current school performance.
So, who can say if Quality Counts’ scoring even makes any sense?
I have a lot more concerns about Quality Counts. Click the “Read more” link to learn about things such as how New Mexico got unfairly treated compared to Kentucky by the Quality Counts analysis.