Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Red State Schools and Blue State Schools

Which states have the best and worst schools? Which type of states (Democratic or Republican) have the best and worst schools?
When it come to excellence in education, red states rule — at least according to a panel of experts assembled by Tina Brown’s Newsweek. Using a set of indicators ranging from graduation rate to college admissions and SAT scores, the panel reviewed data from high schools all over the country to find the best public schools in the country.

Sadly, Newsweek's rating methodology has been suspect for quite some time, so I'm not sure how much "there" there is in this article.

One thing that stuck out to me, though, is that California, the state with more schools than any other, merited only one mention in the entire article:
The poor performance of the New England states is particularly striking. Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts are the states with the oldest and strongest traditions of public education in the country. They led the rest of the country in establishing free public schools and were among the first to mandate a full 12 years of pre-college education. Non-New England blue states like New York, New Jersey and even troubled California and Michigan do significantly better than the New England states in the rankings. The decline of public education in New England is clearly a subject that deserves further study.

Hardly a ringing endorsement.


Ellen K said...

The popular liberal rant against Perry is that the SAT rankings are 49th or 48th. That's one stat out of a slew of them.And some high school principals in desperation will pay for ALL students to take the test just to raise their school's accreditation. But just FYI, here are some stats comparing non-union Texas schools as opposed to Wisconsin union taught schools.
2009 4th Grade Math

"White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

2009 8th Grade Math

White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 292)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 266)

2009 4th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

2009 8th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

2009 4th Grade Science

White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

2009 8th Grade Science

White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

In every category, as you can see, low-spending, non-unionized Texas beats high-spending, very-unionized Wisconsin."

Steve USMA '85 said...

Ellen, very misleading stats you link. Without the error estimates, we do not know if these numbers are statistically different. Upon reading the documentation from the source of the numbers, it is noted that most of the small group numbers have very high error estimates and comparisons are not likely to be significant. The numbers that are used here are considered small group.

Statistically, the numbers used by this author show very little to no difference between Texas & Wisconsin. This is a clear case of a liar using statistics. (from the old saw; statistics don't lie but liars use statistics)

Anonymous said...

Feh. These scores rarely show what they say they do.

Take AP tests. These make up a full 40% of the final Newsweek score. FORTY percent.

But as teachers know, merely placing someone in a putatively "AP" course doesn't mean that they're qualified for it. It doesn't mean that the course is actually teaching AP-level material. It doesn't mean that course was best for the student. It doesn't really mean much at all.

From an AP perspective, the proof is in the pudding: how do students actually do on the AP test? This is the end demonstration of whether the school is pushing unqualified students into AP classes (or botching the instruction.) But that's only a fraction of the Newsweek score.

Same with college admission. Are kids just "going to college?" Where, why, and in what major?

Frankly, it's pretty damn unlikely that every student in a school is best destined for college right after graduation. A high school with a 95% college rate may be doing a better job providing for individual needs. And of course, a college that places 95% of the students at top 10 colleges is better than placement of 100% at CCs.

Newsweek is run by idiots.