U.S. education progress earns a C

WASHINGTON -- A survey of education progress in the 50 states and District of Columbia gives the United States an average grade of C across a broad range of categories.

States earning the highest individual grades were Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota had the worst.

Assessing 80 different indicators, including student achievement, standards and accountability, teacher quality and adequacy of resources, the Quality Counts report -- now in its sixth year --- is published annually by Education Week, a national education newspaper.

The 2002 edition found improvement in some areas. From national testing data, the study found that 17 states have significantly improved the percentage of students achieving proficiency in math in the last five years.

More states provide support for novice teachers and more are holding teacher-training programs accountable for the performance of their graduates on licensing tests.

Many states took action on school safety last year, according to the study. For example, 19 states require that school safety information be included on school report cards.

Although many states have standards and assessment mechanisms in place, few meet the requirements of President Bush's recently passed education legislation.

Nine states administer the kind of standards-based tests in English and math in third through eighth grades that the new law requires. States have until 2005 to add new tests or revamp the ones they have.

The average national grade in the 2001 survey also was a C, an improvement from the C minus from the previous year.

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