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N.C. Roadmap of Need report reveals counties where youth need most support

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The Public School Forum of North Carolina released its 2023 Roadmap of Need, a report based on an assessment of each North Carolina county to determine and rank overall youth well-being. 

The report’s measurements of youth wellness are based on 20 indicators divided among these five sections: economic development, physical health, mental health and safety, education inputs, and education outcomes. According to the report, these sections represent conditions needed for a child to thrive.

Indicators such as teen pregnancy rate, student-to-counselor ratio, or median household income are taken into account for each five sections and inform a county’s ranking in a specific section.

The forum’s overall report on North Carolina’s 100 counties, which considers results from all five sections, shows many lower ranked counties clustered in portions of the state’s northeast and southeast regions. 

Most higher ranking counties are found in the western portion of the state with a few sprinkled in central North Carolina. 

Polk County is the No. 1 ranked county overall, while Robeson County received the lowest overall ranking. 

“The Roadmap continues to highlight disparities across the state that influence a child’s ability to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. It is our hope that local advocates and lawmakers can use this resource to address the needs specific to each community,” said Public School Forum Policy & Research Manager Elizzbeth Paul in a press release.

The published Roadmap of Need contains full information on each of North Carolina’s counties.

The roadmap was last published in 2020 and has since been redesigned. It now offers interactive maps, data, and profiles for each county. County profiles also include public school racial and ethnic demographics for students. 

The Public School Forum of North Carolina is a nonpartisan organization founded in 1985 working to provide research and analysis on education.

The forum seeks to connect leaders to learn more about pressing education topics in the state with the goal of influencing education policy.