Earlier this year, during their sit-ins and demonstrations, Wisconsin teachers compared their state’s (supposed) #2 ranking in ACT/SAT test scores directly to Texas (at #47). Their reason for comparing to Texas was that Wisconsin teachers are unionized while teacher unions are illegal in Texas. This direct comparison was intended to show the benefit of unionized teachers in educating our children.
However, those rankings were found to be: 1) obsolete, using 12-year-old data, and 2) used questionable methodology. The ranking was debunked by PolitiFact and the claim has since been removed from the union’s website, in other words, they stretched the facts to fit their agenda.
One facet that makes a Texas comparison to many other states is the racial makeup of the student population. Minority students – regardless of state – tend to score lower than white students on standardized tests, and the higher the proportion of minority students in a state the lower its overall test scores tend to be. Regardless of the reasons, the gap does exist, and it’s mathematical sophistry to compare the combined average test scores in a state like Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) to a state like Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic).
But let’s ignore that mismatch and compare them anyway – broken down by racial groups. We’ll compare some 2009 standardized test scores (the latest available) for 4th and 8th grade students in the areas of math, reading, and science. A pilot program for 12thgraders is being tested, but national comparisons are not yet possible for that grade. The data supporting the following rankings are found at the Nation’s Report Card website (link below the rankings).
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 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)
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)
To recap: White students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, and Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade.
Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohorts in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8. That bears repeating: Texas fourth and eighth graders outperformed the national average scores in all categories.
Perhaps the most striking thing in these numbers is the within-state gap between white and minority students. Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin.
In other words, students perform better in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools – especially minority students.
Source: http://peskytruth.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/rick-perrys-negatives/ UPDATE: Link is dead