Article Content

As nurse educators, we can often be heard moaning, "Students just don't know as much as they used to" or 'We learned this information in junior high." A recent report published by Education Week entitled "Quality Counts" offers us a bit of evidence related to these complaints. The United States received a grade of C in the areas of educational policy and performance. Maryland was the top-ranked state, followed by Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia. More than half the states scored a C or lower.


Christopher B. Swanson, the vice president of Editorial Projects who publish Education Week, expressed concern related to the "pace of improvement" in our educational systems. Swanson cautions us that our global competitors are moving rapidly ahead of the United States. The average grade for K-12 achievement, focusing on academic performance, is C minus. Other criteria evaluated include chance for success, early foundations, adult outcomes, standards, assessments, and school accountability. Quality and incentives to improve the teaching profession are evaluated for each state. Arkansas and South Carolina scored the highest in these areas. Early childhood education, college readiness, and transition to the economy and workforce were also evaluated.


Other key findings include that 29 states use information from international education to assist in reforming strategies and identifying best practices. States using international standards report that they want students to be ready to meet the demands of a global economy. Twenty-three states use math strategies from other nations to develop standards, whereas 13 used science standards developed outside the United States. The publishers of the document also note that the economy has impacted school programs often linked to academic preparation and success. The economy also has impacted parental employment and contributed to child poverty. Unfortunately, financial issues also led to 23 states reducing their efforts to allocate and develop teaching talent.


To effectively teach our nursing students, we need to be aware of K-12 education in our states. This document provides a starting point to assist us to determine strategies in nursing education we may need to evaluate in relation to public education in the United States.


Source: Quality counts. Education Week. January 12, 2012. Available at Accessed January 13, 2012.


Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor at