Email, Sterling C. Lloyd, assistant director, Education Week Research Center, Jan. 23-24, 2018

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Monday, January 22, 2018 6:02 PM

Subject: Questions about Quality Counts for Texas newspaper and a fact-check

 

Hello from the Austin daily newspaper where I work on fact-checks for the PolitiFact Texas project.

 

I write after noticing several news accounts stating Texas ranked 43rd behind among the states and DC in the 2016 Quality Counts rankings. But when I checked on that today, Texas appeared to rank 42nd (if you count DC) that year or 41st (if you don’t count DC). Can clarify why Texas was widely reported as 43rd in the 2016 rankings?

 

I otherwise see that in the 2017 and 2018 Quality Counts rankings, Texas landed 40th (not counting DC). What drove this change in rank?

 

I ask all these questions for a fact-check due Tuesday. We’re reviewing a candidate’s claim that Texas ranks 43rd in education.

 

I’d be happy to hear back by phone or email. We count on on-the-record attributable information for all our stories.

 

Thanks for your quick help,

 

g.

 

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W. Gardner Selby

Reporter / News

Austin American-Statesman

PolitiFact Texas

11:18 a.m.

Jan. 23, 2018

Thanks for your inquiry. Texas ranked 42nd based on its overall score in Quality Counts 2016. The rankings include the District of Columbia so Texas was 42nd out of 51.

 

The 2016 scores and rankings were revised following the initial release of the report. In the original 2016 report, Texas’ ranking was listed as 43rd. Initial reporting in some news outlets included that ranking. Following corrections, Texas was ranked 42nd.

 

The corrections are explained at: https://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2016/corrections-to-quality-counts-2016.html

 

In Quality Counts 2017 and 2018, Texas ranked 41st including the District of Columbia.

 

In the 2016 report, Texas received an overall grade of C-minus and a score of 69.7. In 2017, it earned a C-minus (70.2). For the 2018 grading, it got a C-minus (70.6). So, the slight improvement in ranking between 2016 and the subsequent years reflects a modest gain in the state’s numerical score if not its letter grade. This change was driven by an improvement in Texas’ School Finance score, where it gained about a point between 2016 and 2017 and about a point between 2017 and 2018. The improvement for Texas in the School Finance score reflects gains on equity in the distribution of funding across districts within the state. For instance, the gap between the highest- and lowest-spending districts in Texas narrowed from 2016 to 2017 and from 2017 to 2018.

 

Important note to keep in mind: The School Finance score makes up one-third of a state’s overall score. The school finance data for Quality Counts 2016 were from 2013. The 2017 report used finance information from 2014. The 2018 finance analysis relied on numbers from 2015. All of those data were the most recent available from the federal government at the time of the analyses.

 

Hope this information is helpful. Feel free to contact me should you have additional questions or need more information.

 

Sterling

 

Sterling C. Lloyd

Assistant Director

Education Week Research Center

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 12:03 PM

To: Sterling Lloyd

Subject: Not adjusting for demographics?

 

A school advocate, Holly Eaton of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, comments on the Quality Counts rankings below. She have a good factual point?

 

g.

1:41 p.m.

Jan. 24, 2018

While it’s important to consider the impact of demographics when thinking about a state’s academic performance, we try to make our methodology for the grading as straightforward as possible. Adjusting for demographics can make the grading less straightforward for the public. It adds methodological details that need to be evaluated.

 

Sterling

 

Sterling C. Lloyd

Assistant Director

Education Week Research Center