Success in Life Depends Greatly on Where a Child Lives, Study Finds

A child's success throughout life depends greatly on where he or she lives, a new report from the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center finds.

Published by Education Week and supported by the Pew Center on the States, the report, Quality Counts 2007: From Cradle to Career - Connecting American Education from Birth Through Adulthood (national summary, 8 pages, PDF), is based on the "Chance-for-Success Index," which tracks state efforts to connect education from preschool through postsecondary education and training. The index provides a perspective on the importance of education throughout a person's lifetime and is based on thirteen indicators that highlight whether young children get off to a good start, succeed in elementary and secondary school, and hit key educational and income benchmarks as adults.

For the first time since its 1997 debut, the report tracks state efforts to create a more seamless education system, based on more than eighty indicators in childhood well-being, K-12 education, postsecondary education, and economy and workforce development. The report also examines the extent to which states have defined what young people need to know and do to move successfully from one stage of education to the next.

States at the top of the list include Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, while Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico trail the national averages significantly. In general, the index finds that people born in the South and Southwest were least likely to experience success, while those residing in the Northeast and North Central states were more likely to do so.

"Overall, the index captures the cumulative effects of education experience from birth through adulthood and pinpoints the chance for success at each stage and for each state," said EPE Research Center director Christopher B. Swanson. "We find that a child's life prospects depend greatly on where he or she lives."

"Quality Counts 2007: Children's Chances for Success Vary Dramatically." Editorial Projects in Education Research Center Press Release 01/03/2007.