Schools were evaluated on six points by the Network for Public Education (NPE), including resistance to privatization, the professionalization of teaching, school finance, allocation of taxpayer resources, reliance on high-stakes testing, and academic success.
The report, Valuing Public Education: A 50 State Report Card, gave no state a grade higher than “C.” Eight states received an “F” and most states were awarded a “D.”
Aware that pushback by government agencies is all too likely, the NPE exhaustively described their testing criteria.
“We evaluated states on six criteria aligned with our values. Laws, policies and practices that impact these criteria were rated. We also considered the measurable effects those laws and policies have on schools. For example, although there are no longer laws that allow racial segregation, a state’s housing and school choice laws affect the student demographics of schools.”
“The average of the six letter grades was then used to create a GPA, which was converted into an overall state letter grade. As a matter of principle, NPE does not believe in assigning a single letter grade for evaluation purposes. We are opposed to such simplistic methods when used, for example, to evaluate schools. In this case, our letter grades carry no stakes. No state will be rewarded or punished as a result of our judgment about their support or lack of support for public education. We assign the grade, and provide the sources from which it is derived, to alert the public about whether their state is acting as a responsible guardian of its public schools.”
They also stated that grades in the “Chance for Success” column are lower than they would have been a decade ago, and suggest that this is due to rising numbers of students living in poverty and increased racial isolation in schools.
When it came to school finance, they gave the United States a national grade of a “dismal D.”