Group ranks Iowa and Illinois education policy low

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In its first report card grading education policies in each state, Students First gave Illinois a D and Iowa gets a failing grade.

Students First issued the State Policy Report Card for 2013 on January 7. 

Illinois got an overall grade of D and was ranked 29th out of 50 states.  Students First says Illinois fails at empowering parents.  The state gets a D from the group for its work to elevate teaching – primarily due to zeros given to Illinois for the lack of value the group says the state places on  effective teachers.  Illinois gets a C for spending wisely and governing well when it comes to education, with the group applauding the way the state spends taxpayer resources to improve outcomes for students.  

Students First gave Iowa an overall grade of F, ranking it 45th out of 50 states.  Students First says Iowa doesn’t do enough to identify, retain and reward effective teachers.  Iowa also fails to make high-quality school choice options available according to Students First.  Iowa gets a C from the group for spending wisely but the group criticizes Iowa for not doing enough to allow governance changes when financial resources are mismanaged. 

Retirement and teacher pension plans received failing grades from the group in both states.

Eleven states received failing grades for their education policies in the Students First report.  Most states received a grade of D+, D or D- and no states got above a B- grade.  The only states to earn that highest mark were Louisiana and Florida.  

Students First is a non-profit group founded by former Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Iowa State Education Association president Tammy Wawro said the report showed a perspective that is “out of touch” with the education system in Iowa and that the report does not offer solutions for improving student learning.