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From the cradle to career

A new report ranks Minnesota third in the U.S.

Chances for success

A new report ranks Minnesota third in the U.S. in providing opportunities for its children to succeed in life, just behind Virginia and Connecticut.

New Jersey was ranked fourth and Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were tied for fifth.

North Dakota was in a three-way tie for 12th with Kansas and Illinois.

The Quality Counts 2007 report - "From Cradle to Career: Connecting American Education From Birth Through Childhood" - tracked a wide range of factors to create its "Chance for Success Index" for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

New Mexico received the worst ranking, at 51. Arizona and Louisiana were tied for 49th place. Texas was ranked at 48. Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee tied for 45th.


The report, released Wednesday by Education Week magazine, tracked 13 areas including family incomes, degrees achieved by children and parents, English fluency for parents, test scores, high school graduation rates and employment.

Minnesota scored well in 11 areas, including children whose parents are fluent in English, 91 percent; high school graduation rate, 79 percent; and adults with incomes at or above the national average, 54.9 percent.

North Dakota did well in nine areas, including parents fluent in English,97 percent; high school graduation rate, 83.1 percent; young adults enrolled in two- or four-year colleges or with degrees,57.7 percent; and adults with degrees, 43.4 percent. But the state lagged in income at or above the national average, 42.2 percent, and preschool enrollment, 26 percent.

Top K-12 systems

Minnesota and North Dakota were rated highly in an evaluation of achievement for kindergarten through 12th-grade education.

They tied for fifth in the nation, behind the No. 1 Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut.

Mississippi had the lowest ranking for K-12 achievement, followed in ascending order by West Virginia, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alabama.

Brian Walters, president of the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp., said North Dakota can improve its success ranking by pointing youth to careers in technology and emphasizing math and science.


"The economy is becoming less and less forgiving of those who don't make good educational choices," Walter said.

Changes needed to improve North Dakota students' chances for success in life are in the offing, says Michel Hillman, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the state's university system.

Hillman points to Gov. John Hoeven's proposed increases in education funding, drawn from the recommendations of the P-16 Task Force and the Governor's Commission on Education Improvement.

Overhauling K-12 education funding, and more money for early childhood education and all-day kindergarten, will help, Hillman said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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