COLUMBUS, Ohio - New research suggests Ohio could be doing a better job of preparing its children for the future.
The annual "Chance-for-Success" index released by Education Week grades states based on 13 distinct factors that affect a person's opportunities from cradle to career.
Ohio was given a grade of B-minus overall, with high school graduation rates, post-secondary participation and eighth-grade math scores among the areas of strength.
However, Sterling Lloyd, assistant director of the Research Center at Education Week, notes there are areas of weakness, such as ranking 32nd for preschool enrollment.
"Ohio's also 40th for kindergarten enrollment, and it finishes 38th for parental employment, so it's in the bottom tier on that metric as well," he explains. "A steady job can help parents ensure their children get off to a good start in school. So, those early years are really where we see a need for improvement."
Ohio ranked 24th among states overall - and its B-minus grade is higher than the national average of C-plus. Ohio also performed better than all neighboring states, except Pennsylvania.
Lloyd notes that compared to data from 2008, the national score has risen by less than one point, now at 79 percent.
"With the grade of C-plus for the nation, and with 24 states getting between a C-minus and a C-plus, there's a sense of mediocrity," he states. "And given that the results have not improved much over time, there's a feeling the results are fairly stagnant. And so, new strategies, new approaches are worth trying."
The report found persistent regional disparities, with states faring better in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
The largest barriers to success were found in the South and Southwest.
Lloyd says the data should be a chance for policymakers and educators in each state to compare their state's performance with others - and decide how to improve it.
"We're talking about a global economy these days, and every state now, every governor, is looking to attract companies really from around the world and trying to point out that their state has the top workforce that their residents have the skills that these companies need," he stresses.
The highest grade awarded, an A-minus, was given to Massachusetts.