Walker & GOP Caught Making-Up Their Own Bogus National Rankings to Trash Wisconsin Schools | WisCommunity

Walker & GOP Caught Making-Up Their Own Bogus National Rankings to Trash Wisconsin Schools

If you go to Scott Walker's website, you would come to the conclusion that Wisconsin's schools are in pretty rough shape.  He claims that Wisconsin is ranked 30th in the nation in fourth grade reading and uses these reading scores to come to the broad and damning conclusion that "Wisconsin schools are failing our children."

Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman was on Sly in the Morning on Tuesday, also apparently was reading off the same talking points:

You have to remember, the quality of education in this state has dropped since Lee Dreyfus and Tommy Thompson were governor. I was looking at the most recent NAEP test scores, nationally, when I was a child, they they used to say Wisconsin had good schools.  After the strong unionization over the last 30-40 years, our 4th grade reading test scores are below the national average.

So, let's take a look at those NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) scores. The first thing you notice when you go their state comparison site, is this:

Note: Comparisons are based on numeric precision (up to eight decimal places) rather than the displayed precision and do not take statistical significance into consideration. For example, the selected value of a state appearing higher in the sort order may not be significantly different from a state appearing lower in the order. National Public is not included in the sort order.

In addition, the tool displays whether the selected results are statistically different from one another. Whether two scores are statistically different depends on the variability of the scores. It is important to consider whether apparent differences are statistically significant because the scores themselves are estimates and are variable, depending on sampling and measurement.

So, with that in mind, I look up Wiscsonsin's most recent NAEP score for fourth grade reading and it says that it is 220.14.  Is this score "below the national average" as Senator Grothman claims? No. The national average score is 219.60.

What about Walker's claim that Wisconsin is 30th in the nation in fourth grade reading. As menioned, not all scores are statistically different from eachother and, therefore, they simply do not give out rankings like the one the one Walker and Grothman have fabricated.

What they do give out is "number of jurisdictions significantly higher," from a statistically significant perspective. The number of jurisdictions that they list as being statistically higher than Wisconsin is 19.  Since this includes military base schools or DoDEA, the number of states ahead of Wisconsin is 18. 

What about the rest of the NAEP scores?  Since Walker and Grothman brought it up, let's take a look.  Below is a table of all of the most recent NAEP test scores:

4th Grade Math:   Only five states statistically higher than Wisconsin

4th Grade Reading: Only 18 states statistically higher than Wisconsin

4th Grade Science: Only seven states statistically higher than Wisconsin

8th Grade Math: Only eight states statistically higher than Wisconsin

8th Grade Reading: Only ten states statistically higher than Wisconsin

8th Grade Science: Only five states statistically higher than Wisconsin

8th Grade Writing: Only five states statistically higher than Wisconsin

So, in other words, not only are Walker and Grothman wrong about the statistic they cherry-picked from the NAEP and tried to fabricate into some kind of phony ranking, but they were using it as a representative example of how Wisconsin schools are "failing."  Clearly, the exact opposite of what they were reporting from the NAEP is true.

If either Walker or Grothman were genuinely concerned about fourth grade reading they would support four year old kindergarten, smaller class sizes, and ensuring we have the best and brightest teaching our kids by paying teachers a fair wage. These are three areas that have a proven track record of improving fourth grade reading scores.

Instead, Walker and Grothman (as well as many other Wisconsin GOP) have trashed our good schools in a ugly attempt to score political points. Shame on them.

Published

February 17, 2011 - 3:14pm

Author

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