For success, Pa. kids' chances top Ohio's



The study looks at a variety of factors tied to a child's success as an adult.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Children growing up in Pennsylvania have a significantly better chance of achieving success in life that those growing up in Ohio, a national education survey says.
Education Week, which calls itself "American Education's Newspaper of Record," released its "Quality Counts 2007" survey, which takes a look at a wide range of education, economic and personal factors to compile a "Chance for Success" index rating children's chances of achieving success in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Pennsylvania ranked 15th in the results, above the national average, while Ohio tied for 27th, below the national average.
The two states tied for 10th in a separate rating examining academic improvement on national achievement tests between 2003 and 2005 in kindergarten through the 12th grade.
The study was done by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center in Bethesda, Md.
The "Chance for Success" index tracks state efforts to connect education from preschool through postsecondary education and training, providing a perspective on the importance of education throughout a person's life.
13 indicators
The results are based on 13 indicators that highlight whether children get off to a good start, succeed in school and hit key educational and income benchmarks as adults.
Those indicators include diverse factors such as the percentage of children living in families that earn a decent wage, percentage of children with at least one parent with a postsecondary degree, annual income of all adults and steady employment of both parents and all adults.
Pennsylvania outscored Ohio in all but two categories: The percentage of children whose parents are fluent in English (96.6 as compared to 94 percent) and the percent of eighth-graders who scored proficient in math on a national achievement test (33.1 versus 30.9 percent).
Ohio's strong K-12 ratings provide continuing evidence that compared with a decade ago, when Ohio was in the middle of the pack in terms of achievement, it now ranks among the top quarter of the states, said J.C. Benton, Ohio Department of Education spokesman.
Looking back
Less than 10 years ago, Ohio was stuck in the middle in almost all education studies, but it has made improvement each year and is pulling ahead of many states and being recognized as a nationwide leader in preparing pupils for the 21st century, Benton said.
Eight out of 10 Ohio school districts earned excellent or effective ratings on their report cards, and Ohio has no districts in academic emergency, he said.
There are still unacceptable achievement gaps between groups of pupils, however, especially for pupils with disabilities, pupils from low-income families and pupils of color, Benton said.
Early childhood education was an Ohio Board of Education priority beginning in 2004-05, and the board has advocated for statewide all-day kindergarten for the past several years, but the proposal has not been funded by the General Assembly, he said.
The "Quality Counts" goal is to encourage states to improve their education links from preschool through adulthood, said Lynn Olson, managing editor for special projects at Education Week.
Conditions found in the home and community shape a child's chances for success even before the preschool level, and those gaps persist through high school, Olson added.
gwin@vindy.com

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