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Illinois Scores a C-Plus for K-12 Education in New National Report

Illinois finished 15th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, earning a C-plus grade in a new Education Week report.

Illinois’ K-12 schools performed slightly better than average compared to other states, according to a new report, but schools across the country received a middling performance review for the third year in a row.

Education Week, a national education publication based in Maryland, recently released its annual Quality Counts report examining the state of elementary and high school education across the country.

Overall, the nation’s schools received a C grade for the third-straight year with a raw score of 74.2 – almost identical to last year’s 74.4 score – on a 100-point scale. Illinois finished 15th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, earning a C-plus grade with a 77 score.

The report grades states on a trio of indicators developed by Education Week’s research center: school finance, K-12 achievement and a chance-for-success index. With the exception of K-12 achievement, the report was based on the most recent available data from 2014.

That index takes into account variables running from early development (such as kindergarten and preschool enrollment, parent education, family income, etc.), to grade school performance and through adult development (annual income, percentage of residents with steady employment).

Here Illinois scored a B-minus, ranking as high as 16th in grade school performance and as low as 26th in early development.

Unsurprisingly, the state received its lowest overall ranking in school finance equity, placing 43rd in the nation. State leaders last year convened a School Funding Reform Commission to come up with a more effective way to fund K-12 education.

Illinois currently has the largest equity gap between its low- and high-poverty districts of any state. As of 2012, high-poverty districts statewide received nearly 20 percent less state and local revenue per student than low-poverty districts. The commission plans to outline its recommendations to the General Assembly by the end of this month.

But the state did better, comparatively, in total school spending, ranking 16th in the nation. According to the report, more than three in four K-12 students in Illinois are enrolled in school districts which spend above the national average on per-pupil expenditures.

The Prairie State scored slightly higher overall this time around compared to 2016, when Illinois finished 20th overall with a C-minus grade.

Overall, 34 states earned between a C-minus and a C-plus.

Massachusetts topped the rankings for the third-straight year, earning a B grade and a score of 86.5. New Jersey (85.6 score), Vermont (83.8), New Hampshire (83.4) and Maryland (82.8) rounded out the top five.

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