Fifty State Chart Book

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19. Race for Results: Composite Well-Being Information

The most recent Kids Count report, Race for Results Index (2014), was developed to better measure the impact of a child’s race on their opportunity for success in adulthood. The Race for Results Index compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups – white, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, American Indian and Latino children at the national and state levels. The index is based on the following 12 indicators that measure a child’s success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood:

  1. Babies born at normal birthweight.
  2. Children ages three to five enrolled in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten.
  3. Fourth graders who scored at or above proficient in reading.
  4. Eighth graders who scored at or above proficient in math.
  5. Females ages 15 to 19 who delay childbearing until adulthood.
  6. High school students graduating on time.
  7. Young adults ages 19 to 26 who are in school or working.
  8. Young adults ages 25 to 29 who have completed an associate’s degree or higher.
  9. Children birth to 17 who live with a householder who has at least a high school diploma.
  10. Children birth to 17 who live in two-parent families.
  11. Children birth to 17 who live in families with incomes at or above 200 percent of poverty.
  12. Children birth to 17 who live in low-poverty areas (poverty <20 percent).

The indicators were chosen based on the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health, and educational milestones.

Race for Results calls attention to disparities and shows they exist in each state in the country. Much like the previous data provided in this Chart Book, Race for Results to some degree quantifies the different worlds and expectations children – particularly African American, American Indian and Latino children – experience compared to their white counterparts. Although states vary in their children’s racial and ethnic make-up, all states are becoming more diverse and all states have disparities in well-being across the different measures used by Race for Results to contrast well-being among children of different backgrounds.

Table 30 shows the composite scores for white, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, American Indian and Latino children for the United States as a whole and by individual state.  The higher the score, the better the state is doing with specific ethnic child populations.

Table 30. Race for Results Index Scores, U.S. and states, 2012

What Can the Data Tell Us?

Race for Results shows that it is essential for states to examine how well they are doing for the children in their states by race and ethnicity and not just how well they are doing for children as a whole. In fact, high relative scores on the overall Kids Count report should not be a rationale for complacency; no state is at the point that it can be “color-blind” in developing strategies to improve overall child-being. For instance, over the last quarter century, Kids Count has ranked states overall on their child outcomes – with Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont consistently ranking among the top ten, and usually top five, states in the country.  Race for Results shows that these states do not rank nearly as well – for white children or for children of color – when the data is disaggregated.  They do well on overall rankings neither because they have reduced disparities nor have done exceptionally well for their white non-Hispanic children, but because they have so few children of color. Similarly, while Alabama often scores well below the national average on the overall Kids Count rankings and has a higher rate of overall poverty, its rankings rise when examined by different races and ethnicities – and the disparities (differences in overall scores for white non-Hispanic children and African-American non-Hispanic children or Hispanic children) are much smaller than many northern states. Wisconsin and Connecticut, which generally score among the top states in the country on overall rankings, actually have the largest disparities between white and African American and white and Latino children, respectively, in the country.

Americans are interested in rankings, and one of the lead stories in most states when the annual Kids Count report comes out is where the state ranks among the fifty states overall. Race for Results does not provide a single ranking – but it is possible to rank states in several ways:

  • Where the well-being of their white, non-Hispanic children ranks with other states.
  • Where the well-being of their African American, non-Hispanic children ranks with other states.
  • Where the well-being of their Hispanic children ranks with other states.
  • Where the well-being of their Asian and Pacific Islander children ranks with other states.
  • Where the relative well-being of children of different backgrounds (and particularly non-Hispanic white to non-Hispanic African American and non-Hispanic white to Hispanic) ranks with other states.

Table 31 provides these rankings for the 50 states, based on the composite scores from Race for Results and also including the most recent overall ranking from the 2014 Kids Count national report.

Table 31. Race for Results Index Scores - Ranking