PROVIDENCE – In what state education officials call “a dramatic improvement,” Rhode Island is now ranked 20th among the states and District of Columbia in the 2012 Quality Counts national report on key education indicators, policy efforts and outcomes.
Rhode Island was 31st in the 2011 rankings. The new ranking gives the state an overall letter grade of C+, with only nine states receiving higher grades and with Maryland the highest at B+.
The improvement comes as a result of new initiatives to improve educator quality and significant gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” the state Department of Education said of the news announced Thursday morning.
“I want to congratulate Rhode Island educators and students for their hard work, which has lifted our ranking on the annual Quality Counts report,” said Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist in a news release.
“The Quality Counts 2012 report recognizes the importance of key initiatives in our strategic plan, ‘Transforming Education in Rhode Island,’ as well as the dramatic improvements our students have made over the past four years in mathematics and reading,” Gist said.
She referred to the fact that Rhode Island students scored higher than previous years in NAEP standardized math and reading tests in 2011, with eighth-graders scoring higher in math and reading while fourth-graders held steady on reading and scored higher in mathematics only.
Here is how Quality Counts, part of the Education Research Center based in Bethesda, Md., ranked Rhode Island:
Chance for success: 19th with a letter grade of B-, graded in areas such as parental education, family income and NAEP results.
K-12 achievement: 19th again with a grade of C-, compared to a ranking of 32nd last year due in large part to the NAEP improvement.
Standards, assessment and curriculum: 29th with a letter grade of B, indicating slight improvement.
Teaching profession: 27th with a grade of C-, compared to 38th last year due in large part to the educator-evaluation system now being implemented.
School finance: 5th with a grade of B+, down from a rank of 2nd last year but still indicative of the state’s “generous support,” the education department said.
“This report shows that we are improving across the board in regard to policies, practices and results, though we have a long way to go to achieve our goals,” Gist said. “Let’s continue working together to make our schools America’s best.”