Our Data & Methodology
PPI Rubric Explanation:
Choice Programs: 37.5%
The choice programs category grade is based on the depth of the reach of the program (s) in terms of students and location, tax credit/scholarship value (ie the closer to the full per pupil amount the better), and eligibility constraints. States are analyzed and evaluated on their potential to reach all children across a state and for the degree to which the program’s value can actually support the full choice of parent, as opposed to only providing a modest amount of financial support. Programs where a significant population of parents can obtain scholarships or vouchers to send their children to the school of their choice score higher than those that have limitations based on geography, income, and student eligibility constraints. CER’s analyses took into consideration ALEC’s Private School Choice grades from the most recent Report Card on American Education, data from the American Federation of Children School Choice Guidebook, and EdChoice’s Share Rankings 2019. PPI strongly emphasizes not only whether policies are “on the books”, but also how they are implemented.
Charter Schools: 37.5%
The National Charter School Ranking and Scorecard is the basis for the grades for all charter school laws. The Scorecard provided detailed metrics and analyses of some thirty different components. Find out more here.
Teacher Quality: 10%
The scores for how well states provide for and manage teacher quality elements were developed based on several data points found in the National Council on Teacher Quality State Teacher Policy Database. While NCTQ measures 10 policy goals broken down into 41 subsections, PPI selected four key areas most impacted by state policy decisions regarding: Training and Recruitment, Staffing and Support, Teacher Evaluation, and Compensation.
NCTQ ranks policy areas by Best Practice, Meets Goal, Nearly Meets Goal, Meets Goal In Part, Or Does Not Meet Goal. PPI grades were calculated by translating NCTQ rankings into letter grades from A+ to F, and averaging the four selected areas.
Digital & Personalized Learning: 15%
Scores under these innovation components were measured on a state’s commitment to and practice of innovative approaches to education that include digital learning models and pathways, full or in part, encouraging personalized learning through focus on competency and mastery – even on a pilot level – or by allowing flexibility in schools and school districts that want to do it. Personalized learning models value mastery of material over traditional subject matter time tests, and competency over end of course grades. While these practices are best decided locally, closest to the student, states can motivate, incentivize, fund, discourage or encourage.
Opportunity Fuel Tanks:
When COVID-19 hit, states that were encouraging, set expectations, and demanded that schools figure out whatever they could to keep moving students forward scored higher than states who dragged their feet, or in some cases outright discouraged schooling to continue.
States are evaluated by reviewing official notices and declarations, as well as a broad array of surveys and data many groups have been maintaining. The fuel tank was determined by the answers to these six questions:
- Did the state provide resources quickly and effectively to students, parents, and teachers?
- How and when did they communicate?
- Did they move quickly to encourage districts to continue instruction?
- Did they ensure students had access to devices and the internet?
- Did they get rules and regulations out of the way?
- Did they encourage and motivate school leaders to provide continuity of learning?
States are primarily evaluated on whether or not they have a Blaine amendment and the strength of that constitutional provision in barring parental freedoms. In addition, some states have other constitutional provisions that impact their ability to have certain kinds of programs, and that is evaluated here as well. PPI relied on a number of sources, CER attorney analysis and the Institute for Justice’s research. States receive an empty opportunity fuel tank for example, if their constitution is interpreted specifically to prohibit all forms of school choice programs, and are full when there are no constitutional provisions standing in the way of enacting a program.
States are measured based on the transparency and accessibility of data for the average person looking to learn about their child’s school. States have more gas in the tank when school report cards are easily accessible from their state DOE homepage; report cards are comprehensive, user-friendly, and easy to understand; and information about educational options are readily available.
Additionally, states score higher when they hold School Board Elections during the General Election cycle, as opposed to off-times of the year when turnout is low, because this tends to afford parents more power in their decision-making.