The national education reform advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released its first State Policy Report Card on Monday, Jan. 7. That same day, a press conference call was held to discuss the new national report cards.

On the call were Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst; Eric Lerum, vice president of national policy; and Tim Melton, vice president of legislative affairs. The report card evaluates education policies and laws in each state, and whether the states’ policies help students achieve in those school systems.

The letter grades “A” through “F” were given to each state and the District of Columbia. Each is given a score based on three categories: “Elevating the Teaching Profession,” “Empowering Parents with Data and Choice” and “Spending Wisely and Governing Well.” In each of the categories, there are specific subcategories based on policy. The states are scored on how they measure up to the policy and the averaged result of that score equates to the final letter grade given to the states.

New York was given a “D-” overall, scoring a 1.36 out of 4.0 in “Elevating the Teaching Profession,” a 0.29 in “Empowering Parents” and 2.67 in “Spending Wisely.” No state received an “A” grade, and over two- thirds of the schools received a “D” or “F.” The highest grades went to Florida and Louisiana, both receiving a “B-.”

Said Rhee, “Everyone knows that there is evidence that schools are underperforming.”

By measuring how each state’s education policies are aiding students, parents and schools, StudentsFirst hopes to see a change in the performance of these schools. It was agreed upon that one of the factors that contribute to the lack of achievement in these schools is the lack of options for parents and students. Many children are zoned into certain neighborhood schools because of their socio-economic backgrounds, unable to take advantage of resources elsewhere. “We want all parents and children to have options,” Lerum said.

With the new report card evaluations, states can see where they are lacking when it comes to certain policies. Lerum added that the reception to the grades from states has been open. “They want the push,” he said.

The report cards can be viewed at www.reportcard.studentsfirst.org.