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A Little Progress on Students First Policy Report Card No Reason to Stop Going

Some people may wonder why I like talking about report cards on schools and state education policies so much. Well, the answer is simple: Because they’re not MY report cards that MY parents have to sign. It’s hard for me to be objective about that “Unsatisfactory” mark I got in finger painting. Seriously harder than sharing about the latest round of Colorado School Grades or where Colorado districts rank on the new Choice and Competition Index.

This time around it’s the second annual Students First State Policy Report Card. A year ago, when I was still 5, I highlighted the good new/bad news that came with the inaugural release. Colorado ranked ninth among all the states plus D.C., but only earned a C grade.

Well, there’s two sides to the coin again this year. Colorado’s “GPA” improved enough to push us from number 9 to number 7 on the list. When it comes to student-centered policies that move the ball and bring opportunity and results, we’re still looking up at the likes of:

  1. Louisiana
  2. Florida
  3. Indiana
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Washington D.C.
  6. Tennessee

Four of the six made some of the biggest short-term gains on NAEP reading and math tests — most notably Tennessee and D.C., with Indiana and Florida not too far behind. The changes that not only would help Colorado further improve its C grade, but also help drive improvement, are many of the same list I shared in early 2013:

  • Reforming salary schedules so teachers aren’t just earning more for advanced degrees, a major misallocation of resources
  • Empowering families to make excellent education choices through opportunity scholarship and/or the parent trigger
  • Providing public charter schools with fair, equitable funding both for operations and facilities
  • Giving parents a clear picture of how well their school is performing (thankfully, we have Colorado School Grades filling the gap) and whether their child has been placed with an ineffective teachers
  • Requiring schools to “link expenditure and student achievement data in a way that allows policymakers and the public to understand the impact of their spending decisions”

A new Education Next survey finds dramatic changes in popular opinion about school reforms when people learn their school’s performance ranking and per-pupil spending. But another piece of that puzzle is identifying the policy solutions that empower parents, promote effective instruction, and enhance public transparency. Let’s make sure the progress builds momentum, not complacency!

So while hopefully you are now better informed, I will pledge to continue bringing attention to these important issues. And we can just forget about that little art blemish on Eddie’s report card, right? Good.