How We Grade States

State grades (A, B, C, D, or F) in the five performance categories are based on each state’s performance relative to other states.

Step 1. Identify the indicators

Indicators, or measures, are selected for each performance category: preparation, participation, affordability, completion, and benefits. All indicators used in Measuring Up:

  • are important in assessing performance in the category,
  • are collected regularly by reliable, public sources that follow accepted practices for data collection,
  • are comparable across the 50 states, and
  • measure performance results.

Step 2. Weight indicators

Each indicator is assigned a weight based on its importance to the performance category. For each category, the sum of all weights is 100%.

Step 3. Identify top states for each indicator

State results, or raw scores, on each indicator are converted to an “index” scale of 0 to 100, using the performance of the top five states as the benchmark. This establishes a high, but achievable standard of performance. Beginning with Measuring Up 2004, the performance of the top five states in the early 1990s sets the benchmark for the current performance in the affordability category. All other categories continue to use the top five states in the current year.

Step 4. Identify best state for each category

State scores for each category are calculated from the state’s results on the indicators and the indicators’ weights. In each category, the sum of all the index scores on the indicators is converted to a scale of 0 to 100, based on the performance of the top state in the category.

Step 5. Assign grades

Grades are assigned based on the category index scores, using a grading scale common in many high school and college classes.

Grades