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A State-by-State Report Card on K-12 Educational Effectiveness
Reprinted with permission from:
The U. S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Copyright 2014 by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce
1615 H St. NW, Washington DC, 20062

Excerpt from the Introduction (Pgs. 5-6):

“In our increasingly globalized world, an effective, first-class education is more and more critical. For businesses to compete globally and for the U.S. economy to continue to grow, access to high-quality talent and a skilled workforce is essential. While the numerous benefits of an educated society are well-documented – higher earnings, reduced inequality, and improved health and well-being, to name just a few – solutions to the challenges facing business will be solved by those countries that can access the best and the brightest human capital and thereby gain a competitive advantage. Failure to compete will not only exacerbate unemployment, poverty and inequality, but it will put the nation at risk of long-term economic stagnation.

As countless data have shown, better educational opportunities improve one’s quality of life and potential for economic success. Over the course of his or her lifetime, a high school graduate can expect to make almost $500,000 more than a high school dropout, and a college graduate can expect to make about $800,000 more than a college dropout.

Unfortunately, numerous indicators outline America’s challenges in delivering a high-quality education for all students. Comparison of even our most privileged students to their international peers place U.S. students in the middle of the pack. The testing company ACT reports that as few as 25% of students taking the ACT reports that as few as 25% of students taking the ACT college admissions test produce college-ready scores in all four tested subjects (English, mathematics, reading and science). Looking at our most disadvantaged students, the results are downright shocking. In some states, high school graduation rates for African-American and Hispanic students are less than 60%.  No society can afford for so many of its students to be so left behind.

Business leaders have a clear stake in the nation’s educational future. While America’s K-12 education system is found to be middling in international comparisons, our private sector is a world leader renowned for its innovation and productivity. While America’s stake in the nation’s education system is found to be middling in international comparisons, our private sector is a world leader renowned for its innovation and productivity.


But current status is no indication of future superiority. Today’s students are tomorrow’s business leaders. For our economy to maintain its leadership position, our education system must improve.

Like leaders of large and complex organizations, state policy makers need actionable data. To address this need, in 2007 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched an effort to dig into national statistics and available rankings of state policy environments to see who were the national leaders in educational performance- and who were the laggards. The resulting report, Leaders & Laggards: A State –by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness, ranked states on nine indicators. A second iteration of Leaders and Laggards was released in 2009, which focused on the states that led the way in educational innovation.

These two reports produced findings that influenced subsequent discussions around K-12 education policy.

The rankings included the first measurement of return on investment, comparing a state’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to the amount of money that a state spends on education. This led the Center for American Progress to create a Web-based tool that tracks the return on investment down to the district level, while the American Enterprise Institute and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute co-hosted a public research conference dedicated to “Stretching the school dollar.” 1

 Leaders and Laggards also decried the low-quality and inconsistent standards in many states around the country. This, among other contributing factors, prompted state leaders to work together to create a new set of common standards, known as Common Core State Standards, which has been adopted by more than 40 states and the District of Columbia.

In the growing age of digital learning, a new nonprofit called Digital Learning Now! answered the call in Leaders & Laggards for better indicators of technology policy by releasing its own state rankings on education technology.

The 2007 Leaders and Laggards report found that many states performed admirably on the Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC’s) rankings of 10 “essential elements” for proper longitudinal data systems. DQC has since created a new set of 10 “state actions” to keep the pressure on states.  This higher bar, in the words of DQC, “reveals that states have more capacity than every to use secure education data, but they need to place a greater focus on using the right data to answer the right questions to improve student success.” 2


A focus on higher standards, access to better data on student performance, a greater awareness of the need not just to spend more money but to spend it wisely, and the growing consensus on improving digital learning opportunities to create 21st century schools were all wins for our K-12 system and will pay dividends in augmenting the skills and competitiveness of our workforce.

But we couldn’t stop there. Leaders and Laggards 2014 updates and enhances earlier iterations of the report, shining a light on both areas of improvement as well as areas that continue to fall short. We also added new metrics, including measures of parental choice, international competitiveness, technology policy and fiscal responsibility. In addition, for the first time, we show change over time in student scores between the first Leaders and Laggards report in 2007 and this edition.


……What makes this Leaders and Laggards unique is its orientation to the needs and values of the business community, like international competitiveness, fiscal responsibility, and a respect for markets. The indicators used in this report draw upon and reflect the business expertise of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and its members. “

The Results for New York (pg. 77):

Academic Achievement: C*
Student performance in New York is middling. The state hovers around the national average in the percentage of  4th and 8th graders at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading and math exams.

Academic Achievement for Low Income and Minority Students: C *
New York earns a mediocre grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Only 14% of Hispanic 8th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam. The national average is 21%.

Return on Investment:  F
Student achievement in New York is very low relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency: B
New York posts above average marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.


Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness:  B
New York earns a high grade preparing its students for college and careers, with 25 students out of 100 passing an AP exam.

21st Century Teaching Force B -
New York does an above average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. It struggles to remove ineffective teachers but is good at identifying effective ones.

Parental Options:  A
New York does an excellent job providing parents with strong school choice options. The Empire State has a strong charter school law that allows a number of independent organizations to authorize charter schools, as well as great flexibility for charter schools to operate.

Data Quality:  B
New York earns a good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data, having made significant progress in recent years. It has policies to support a longitudinal data system and is expanding stakeholder use.

Technology:  D-
New York receives a poor grade employing technology to provide effective instruction and personalized learning. Students have limited access to high-quality digital learning options, and the state has not invested in the necessary infrastructure to support digital learning in schools.

International Competitiveness: B
New York earns an above-average grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy, with about 14 students out of 100 passing an AP STEM Exam.

Fiscal Responsibility A
New York receives very high marks on fiscal responsibility. Eighty-seven percent of the state’s pension is funded, and the state’s most recent contribution was 100%.


1) 1. Ulrich Boser, Return on Educational Investment: A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational
Productivity , Center for American Progress, 19 Jan. 2011.
report/2011/01/19/8902/return-on-educational-investment; A Penny Saved: How Schools and Districts Can TightenTheir Belts While Serving Students Better,  American Enterprise Institute and Thomas B. Fordham Institute, The Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C., 11 Jan. 2010.

2)  State Analysis by State Action,  Data Quality Campaign, 2013.

To read the complete study, visit









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