NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Report Card on American Education

July 29, 2013

During the 2011 legislative sessions, a number of blockbuster reforms were produced across a variety of education policy areas. That momentum continued in 2012 with major reforms impacting a variety of K-12 policy domains. In addition to major policy advances, a number of high-quality academic studies strongly supported the case for these crucial reforms. Importantly, with state education policy now beginning to accept a student-driven environment, it has freed education innovators to field-test stunningly novel digital learning techniques that have the potential to revolutionize learning not just in the United States, but around the world, say Matthew Ladner, the senior adviser of policy and research, and Dave Myslinski, the state policy director for Digital Learning Now!, at the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

In the report, Ladner and Myslinski evaluate:

  • Changes made by reform-minded policymakers in 2012, including literacy-based promotion, teacher quality reform advances and alternative teacher certification.
  • How sates are closing achievement gaps.
  • How states stack up when it comes to education policy and academic performance. States were ranked on academic standards, charter schools, home school regulation burden, private school choice programs, teacher quality and policies, and online learning.
  • The global achievement gap.

Ladner and Myslinski find:

  • The average American school, district and state did little to narrow race- or income- based achievement gaps between 2003 and 2011.
  • A disturbingly large swath of schools, districts and states, in fact, did precisely the opposite.
  • None of the 50 states received an "A" grade; just three -- Arizona, Indiana and Oklahoma -- received a B+.

Education reform now represents a decentralized learning process and, as parental dissatisfaction turns into intolerance of continued failure, the pace will likely quicken in the years ahead.

Source: Matthew Ladner and Dave Myslinski, "Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform," American Legislative Exchange Council, 2013.


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