The Global Report Card was developed by Jay P. Greene and Josh B. McGee as part of the George W. Bush Institute's Education Reform Initiative. The Bush Institute works to increase dramatically the number of American students who graduate high school ready for college or prepared for a good career by:

  • cultivating a new generation of principals
  • implementing cutting edge research
  • advancing accountability

Driven by accountability and data, these initiatives challenge the status quo and lead a wide range of partners to share goals and use clear metrics tied to student achievement.

Summary of Methodology

The calculations begin by evaluating the distributions of student achievement at the state, national, and international level. To allow for direct comparisons across state and national borders, and thus testing instruments, we map all testing data to the standard normal curve using the appropriate student level mean and standard deviation. We then calculate at the lowest level of aggregation by estimating average district quality within each state. Each state's average quality is evaluated then using national testing data. And finally, the average national quality is determined using international testing data. Essentially, this re-centers our distribution of district quality based upon the relative performance of the individual state when compared to the nation as a whole as well as the relative performance of the nation when compared to our economic competitors.

For example, the average student in Scarsdale School District in Westchester County, New York scored nearly one standard deviation above the mean for New York on the state's math exam. The average student in New York scored six hundredths of a standard deviation above the national average of the NAEP exam given in the same year, and the average student in the United States scored about as far in the negative direction (-.055) from the international average on PISA. Our final index score for Scarsdale in 2007 is equal to the sum of the district, state, and national estimates (1+.06+ -.055 = 1.055). Since the final index score is expired in standard deviation units, it can easily be converted to a percentile for easy interpretation. In our example, Scarsdale would rank at the seventy seventh percentile internationally in math.

About the Authors

Jay P. Greene is a fellow at the Institute as well as the 21st Century Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, where he heads the Department of Education Reform. Greene conducts research and writes about education policy, including topics such as school choice, high school graduation rates, accountability, and special education.
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His research was cited four times in the Supreme Court's opinions in the landmark Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case on school vouchers. His articles have appeared in policy journals, such as The Public Interest, City Journal, and Education Next, in academic journals, such as Education Finance and Policy, Economics of Education Review, and the British Journal of Political Science, as well as in major newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Jay P. Greene is the author of Education Myths (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005) and Why American Needs School Choice (Encounter, 2011).

Greene has been a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. He received his B.A. in history from Tufts University in 1988 and his Ph.D. from the Government Department at Harvard University in 1995. He lives with his wife and three children in Fayetteville, AR.

Josh B. McGee is Vice President for Public Accountability Initiatives at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Josh is also an adjunct faculty member at Rice University where he teaches in the Summer Institute for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program at the Jones Graduate School of Business. He has experience in many fields including stints as an engineering consultant and a charter school administrator. Prior to joining the Foundation, Josh was a Doctoral Fellow and Research Associate in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.
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Josh has produced high quality, policy relevant research spanning a number of important areas of education policy, including the impact of teachers' pensions on the labor market, measuring school level student achievement growth and the impacts of charter schools. His work has appeared in scholarly journals, including Education Finance and Policy and Education Next. He has presented his work at several major academic conferences including the meetings of the American Economic Association, the Southern Economic Association, the Association for Education Finance and Policy and the American Statistical Association.

Josh has also worked actively to shape policy. He has provided expert testimony and policy advice in several states on the topics of public pension reform and measuring student growth for accountability.

Josh holds a B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Arkansas. He lives with his wife and daughter in Houston, TX.

About the Index

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Eric Hanushek, Paul Peterson, and Martin West for reviewing this work and providing invaluable suggestions for improvement. Jonathan Mills assisted with data gathering and management. Edward Lazear and Susanna Loeb provided helpful feedback during the early development of the Global Report Card.

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