Education the driving force behind Vermont's high child well-being rank


BENNINGTON -- In the 2014 edition of a data book that ranks U.S. states on child well-being, Vermont ranked second overall, with quality education acting as a driving force.

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which was released last week, uses 16 indicators across four domains (economic well-being, education, health, and family and community) to rank the states. Vermont, which also held the number two spot last year after being ranked third in 2012 and fourth in 2011, finished inside the top 8 in each of the domains.

The data book shows Vermont improving from past numbers in many of the 16 indicator categories, including across the board in education.

The number of children not attending preschool improved from 52 percent in 2007 to 51 percent, the number of fourth graders not proficient in reading improved from 61 percent in 2005 to 58 percent.

The number of eighth graders not proficient in math decreased drastically as well, from 62 percent in 2005 to 53 percent. In the final education category, high school students not graduating on time, Vermont saw another large decrease, from 18 percent in 2006 to 7 percent. All of this data is based on the most recently available statistics, either 2012 or 2013, depending on the category. Overall, Vermont ranked third in the country in education.

In the U.S. on average, 54 percent of children don't attend pre-school, 66 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading, 66 percent of eighth graders are not proficient at math, and 19 percent of high school students don't graduate on time.

In regards to the pre-school percentages, Sarah Teel, of Voices for Vermont's Children, is hopeful that those numbers will continue to improve in coming years, with the passage of Vermont's universal pre-k law. "This will be a good year to take note of this as a baseline," she said.

The data book is produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropic group based out of Baltimore.

To acquire the data that makes up the data book, AECF works with state organizations. For Vermont, the primary contact was Voices for Vermont's Children, formerly known as the Vermont Children's Forum, which was founded in 1983. The organization, according to their website, works on behalf of Vermont youth by advocating during legislative session, organizing regional coalitions, providing up-to-date information, policy briefs, and fact sheets important to children, and by co-sponsoring workshops, trainings, and conferences.

Outside of education, Vermont ranked eighth in economic well-being, sixth in healthcare, and third in family and community.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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