Introducing The Opportunity Index! A New Measure of 50-State Performance on Education, Transportation and Economic Vitality

In early 2015, WashACE launched Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperity, a roadmap for expanding Washington’s culture of opportunity statewide.

To use any map effectively, travelers must know where they are, where they’re headed, and how to measure progress. To that end, we introduce The Opportunity Index, a data-driven analysis of state performance in three categories that communities tell us are most important. Achieve measures education quality and outcomes. Connect measures transportation reliability and efficiency. Employ measures economic vitality.

Our goal is to make Washington a top-10 state, overall and in each sub-category. We’re not there yet. Our state is in a good – though not great – position, ranking 24th among the states. Washington comes in just above the median, not in the top 10 overall or the top 10 in any sub-category.

This short video gives a clear overview of how the index is constructed and where we rank. (We’ll explain more below.)

To develop the Index, we examine 50-state data from 16 variables across the three categories. The dials are set so the score of the 10th best state is 100 and the median is 75. From there, the analysis produces a weighted average or “opportunity score” for each state. Achieve and Employ data each make up 40 percent of the opportunity score; Connect makes up 20 percent. The data tells us where each state ranks and where Washington can improve. Again, we want to be in the top ten, aiming for a score of 100 or better in each sub-category.

Below is an excerpt from our dashboard-style infographic. As you’ll see, we rank 18th in Achieve, 38th in Connect, and 23rd in Employ. 

OI Info

For more on the Opportunity Index, read our responses to Frequently Asked Questions. We’re also great believers in transparency, so here’s our discussion of data sources.

Visit Opportunity Washington regularly to learn more about the Index, dig into Washington’s performance by category, or to find out how other states are performing. And remember to check back. We will update the index quarterly, providing insight into practices and policies that could lead to improved performance.

And as regular readers know, we have daily coverage of these issues on our blog. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to receive up-to-the-minute updates