Friday, December 03, 2010

Your Child Left Behind

A VERY important new study by Eric Hanushek – I've used the chart in a new slide in my school reform slide deck (posted at:

Here's an excerpt from an article about the study in the latest issue of The Atlantic:

Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and two colleagues recently conducted an experiment to answer just such questions, ranking American states and foreign countries side by side. Like our recruiter, they looked specifically at the best and brightest in each place—the kids most likely to get good jobs in the future—using scores on standardized math tests as a proxy for educational achievement.

We've known for some time how this story ends nationwide: only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced-proficiency level in math, a share that lags behind kids in some 30 other countries, from the United Kingdom to Taiwan. But what happens when we break down the results? Do any individual U.S. states wind up near the top?

Incredibly, no. Even if we treat each state as its own country, not a single one makes it into the top dozen contenders on the list. The best performer is Massachusetts, ringing in at No. 17. Minnesota also makes it into the upper-middle tier, followed by Vermont, New Jersey, and Washington. And down it goes from there, all the way to Mississippi, whose students—by this measure at least—might as well be attending school in Thailand or Serbia.


Your Child Left Behind

For years, poor performance by students in America relative to those in other countries has been explained away as a consequence of our nationwide diversity. But what if you looked more closely, breaking down our results by state and searching not for an average, but for excellence?

By Amanda Ripley, The Atlantic

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