EdWeek Ranks Wisconsin 11th for Education, Gives State C+

High Finance, Chance for Success Grades Balance Out a “C-” in K-12 Achievement

January 21, 2015

by Christian D’Andrea
MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst

Wisconsin isn’t elite, but the state is still one of America’s top performers when it comes to K-12 education. Education Week’s Quality Counts ranked every state in America and placed the Badger State 11th – one slot behind Minnesota but in front of every other state in the Midwest.

EdWeek 2015 Top 25 States.pngHigh marks in a student’s chances for future success and school finance laws helped balance out a disappointing grade when it came to K-12 achievement in the state. While Wisconsin earned solid “B” marks in the first two categories, the state registered a “C-” when it came to student results in the classroom and on standardized tests.

EdWeek uses a combination of indicators to comprise its “Chance for Success” metric. That tracks the opportunities that a student has from pre-kindergarten through high school to learn the tools they’ll need to thrive as adults. Wisconsin rated out strongly in this category thanks to high kindergarten enrollment rates and top five high school graduation rates.

The state’s performance wasn’t as strong in the school finance category. The EdWeek metric combines funding equity with spending to get an idea of how much money is spent on education within the state and its sources.

Wisconsin placed 12th in this designation with a “B-” grade thanks to the state’s equal funding across disparate districts as well as adjusted per-student spending that was slightly higher than the national average.

However, those marks fell when Wisconsin ranked 15th in the nation when it came to K-12 achievement thanks to their aforementioned “C-” grade.

Education Week uses a number of different inputs to create a comprehensive look at state performance when it comes to education. The publication found that Wisconsin wasn’t one of America’s elite states when it came to K-12, but still a national leader. That’s a solid performance – but there’s still plenty of room to grow, from producing stronger achievement scores in all grades to finding a simpler, more transparent, and fairer way to fund students from Kenosha to Superior.