In her first campaign speech as a candidate for Ohio lieutenant governor, Yvette McGee Brown, running mate of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, highlighted Strickland’s focus on primary education during his first term in office.
She noted that the governor increased school funding by 5.5 percent (a claim that we rated as false) and that he committed the state to focus on science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM. She then said this focus on education is bringing Ohio national recognition.
"The critics have spoken and every Ohioan should hear what they have to say about our schools," she said. "The Education Commission of the States gave Ohio its award for the most innovative education reform plan in the nation. Education Week rates Ohio schools in the top five in the nation."
Indeed, in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2010 report, Ohio’s education system was ranked fifth best in the nation, with an overall grade of B-. But a deeper look behind Education Week’s grading system reveals some less-flattering findings.
To calculate the overall rankings, the trade publication graded each state on four primary areas. Ohio’s rating in some of those areas belies its lofty overall ranking:
- In ‘Chance for Success,’ a category that gauges how well an Ohio education prepares students for the next stages of their schooling or life, Ohio did not fare well for the number of students attending preschool and for the number of adults with two- or four-year college degrees. Rank: 25th; Grade: C+.
- In the ‘School Finance’ category, Ohio again rates in the middle of the pack, despite increasing spending on public education in recent years, as Brown noted. Rank: 18th; Grade: C+.
- Ohio rated best in the ‘Standards, Assessment & Accountability’ category, recognized for having well-reasoned and challenging learning objectives and curriculums. Rank: 3rd; Grade: A.
- And in ‘Teaching Profession,’ an area judging each state’s quality of teachers and strength of its educational leaders, Ohio is considered average. Rank: 14th; Grade: C+.
Brown’s statement is correct about the overall ranking. But we believe it is important to add context to that overall ranking by noting that Ohio received C+ ratings, or barely average, in three of the four areas graded. We rate this statement True.