Monday, February 01, 2010

Texas Opts Out of Edumacating Its Children

It should come as no surprise that of the 50 states, Texas and Alaska are the only two who are opting out of working on national education standards.

This comes on the heels of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s turn-down of Texas’ piece of the $700 million federal funding pie from the already paid for Race to the Top program earlier this year.

From USA Today on January 14th:

“Perry said Texas' education system is doing well under state and local control — standardized test scores are up, the dropout rate is down and Texas has been recognized as one of only four states that is closing the achievement gap in math. The grant program doesn't remove schools from state and local control but it gives Obama considerable leverage as he pushes education reform.”

“’Here in Texas, we don't have broad consensus on every issue facing our school system,’ Perry said. ‘We do agree we'd rather work those differences out in Texas with solutions that work for Texans instead of accepting a top down mandate from some distant bureaucrats.’”

So according to Rick Perry, Texas is doing fine in the area of education and is actually a top-performer nationwide. Why adopt national standards that are inferior to standards adopted by Texans, tested by Texans, and paid for by Texans?

Excuse me a minute while I walk into the other room and laugh.

Or is it cry? I just don’t know which to do.

I went to the CollegeBoard website to peruse the state-by-state SAT test scores and do a tally. The tally is posted below (and yes, that is Texas’ scores highlighted in yellow).

Now first to repeat the CollegeBoard’s admonishment not to use their data to compare one state’s education to another:

“The SAT is a strong indicator of trends in the college-bound population, but it should never be used alone for such comparisons because demographics and other nonschool factors can have a strong effect on scores. If ranked, schools and states that encourage students to apply to college may be penalized because scores tend to decline with a rise in percentage of test-takers.”

That is precisely why I only include the top 20 states in terms of Number Tested. That number tracks a state’s total population quite well.

Also, the CollegeBoard probably cringes when the media use their data. They are in the business to make money, not enemies.

And yes, among the most populous states in the nation, Texas ranks third from the bottom in SAT Critical Reading and Writing skills.

These are the cream of the crop. These are the students rated as most likely to attend college.

Bringing me to my point. I suspect that Rick Perry is less interested in making a political point in refusing federal funds for Texas schools, and I suspect that Rick Perry and his minions in the Texas Education Agency are less interested in participating in a national standards adoption process precisely because of the results that are clearly shown at the CollegeBoard website.

Talk about national standards. This test, this SAT test, is the same darned test given to all test takers nationwide.

It’s the same test, and Texas ranks third from the bottom.

Oh, where was Mississippi in all of this? Why didn’t Mississippi show up to give Texas a rankings boost as it usually does? Less than 1000 students in the entire state took the SAT. According to the CollegeBoard, the two states should not be compared.

But yes, their test score averages were higher than Texas’.


Anonymous said...

Top 5 in the South and top 18 in the country isn't horrible. You may want to use some other measures to support your argument.

Hal said...

Congratulations, Anon, you demonstrate to us all the mighty brainpower that represents the educated mind of a Texas edumacated scholar.

We are number 5!

Of the worst educated states in the nation.


Marsha said...

Hal, Sorry about posting so late but it took me this long to stop laughing at Anon's comment. I would take up a collection to buy Perry and Anon a good education in the Pacific North West but then every one in the 5 Southern states would want to migrate too.

I have been screaming to any one who would listen that the state of the education in Texas is not the fault of the teachers but the fault of the Southern Educated Administers who think it is still 1960.