Debates on the merits of teacher effectiveness reforms, school choice, academic standards, and new financing models have become a fixture in the education policy arena. Ideas, once relegated to the fringes, are now beginning to take hold in states across the country.Yet advocates still have much work ahead to turn these ideas into policies that will improve student outcomes. Some reform organizations have responded by releasing reports—such as StudentsFirst’s State Policy Report Card
and NCTQ’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook
—that provide specific policy prescriptions and grade states against their adoption of these policies.
But state report cards aren’t new. Education Week’s Quality Counts
has been grading states for almost two decades. The difference is that today’s report cards are increasingly produced by advocacy organizations, in addition to education journalists and researchers. With more diverse organizations grading state education policies, what role do these reports play? Do they inform the public about the state of education reform? Do they help lawmakers bridge the gap between policy challenges and real-world solutions that could improve student learning? Or, do they oversimplify the complexity of these issues?
New America hosted a conversation on the future of education reform and whether state policy grades translate into substantive change in our schools.Follow the conversation online @NewAmericaEd and @StudentsFirst using #MakingtheGrades.