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Old 04-09-2012, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Webster Groves, MO
1,104 posts, read 1,909,796 times
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So I always hear that certain states are better than others regarding education. Most people in the Midwest are critical of education in Arizona for example. And I've heard studies that rank stated based on education and Arizona ranks near the bottom of those lists.

I tried to look at the criteria that is being used for these rankings. The only real measurable that would seem to make sense would be test scores. Well that is nearly impossible now because there are no norm-referenced national aptitude tests that are really given any more. Most states just give their own state achievement test. Since each state gives a different one, there is no way of comparing one state to another.

So I thought about looking at ACT and SAT scores. In my opinion that is the best indicator because that tests a kids readiness for college. So it takes into account all their years of schooling and rates how well that student is prepared to go to the next level of education.

The results were surprising. Now it was hard to read the data with complete accuracy because in some stated almost all students take the ACT and in some states it's split fairly evenly. But by any measure Arizona does very well when compared to other states. I've included links to the sites below.

SAT mean scores of college-bound seniors and percentage of graduates taking SAT, by state or jurisdiction: Selected years, 1987-88 through 2008-09

State-by-state SAT and ACT scores | Public Agenda

 
Old 04-09-2012, 11:12 AM
 
16,587 posts, read 14,063,191 times
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Stats 101:

In order to compare schools you need to use a measure that tests the largest portion of a population. Using SAT/ACT scores is intellectually dishonest at best because Arizona doesn't even graduate a third of its students in public school let alone have them go on to college.

Center for the Future of Arizona | Arizona High School Graduation Rate Drops 7 Percentage Points
Arizona high-school graduation rate rises, but trails U.S.

Additionally, out of all students in AZ only the top 25% take the SAT and ACT. Whereas in the US the average overall is nearly half. Which really means to use ACT and SAT from AZ to another state you have to look at the top 25th percentile of SAT/ACT scores.

So do you really think the best way to judge your states success at public education is to ignore the third of students who do not graduate, and only look at the top 1/4 students? And then to compare that to the top 50% of other states? Really?
 
Old 04-09-2012, 11:20 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,983 posts, read 102,540,351 times
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^^Agreed. In CO, all HS juniors take the ACT, also the case in Illinois and I believe some other states. On the east and west coasts, the SAT is the preferred test, few take the ACT. In the midwest, it's more ACT.
 
Old 04-09-2012, 11:20 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
33,875 posts, read 42,085,992 times
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You're running into the problem of how to rank school systems. SAT/ACT? How about the kids who don't take them since not everyone is going to college. Graduation rate? States count that differently although that's changing. AP exams? Same as SAT/ACT.

By one measure Maryland is considered the best school system in the US. Why? Because we have the highest percentage of students taking the SAT and AP exams and have the High School Assessments in English 10, Algebra and Biology.
 
Old 04-09-2012, 11:33 AM
 
16,587 posts, read 14,063,191 times
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An example of why this is flawed:

Arizona only has top 25% take sats so lets compare that to a state like mine where over 75% of kids take it. So lets compare that to the top 30th percentile (30% of 75% = 25%) of NJ students.

OK AZ 2009: Math=521 Reading =516 Writing =497 Total = 1534
NJ 2009: Math=600 Reading =570 Writing =570 Total = 1740

In order to compare using SAT we would have to normalize for percentage taking it. It still ignores all of the other students who did not take the SAT or ACT.
 
Old 04-09-2012, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Webster Groves, MO
1,104 posts, read 1,909,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
Stats 101:

In order to compare schools you need to use a measure that tests the largest portion of a population. Using SAT/ACT scores is intellectually dishonest at best because Arizona doesn't even graduate a third of its students in public school let alone have them go on to college.

Center for the Future of Arizona | Arizona High School Graduation Rate Drops 7 Percentage Points
Arizona high-school graduation rate rises, but trails U.S.

Additionally, out of all students in AZ only the top 25% take the SAT and ACT. Whereas in the US the average overall is nearly half. Which really means to use ACT and SAT from AZ to another state you have to look at the top 25th percentile of SAT/ACT scores.

So do you really think the best way to judge your states success at public education is to ignore the third of students who do not graduate, and only look at the top 1/4 students? And then to compare that to the top 50% of other states? Really?
Your stat about 25% taking the ACT and SAT is wrong. In Arizona both tests are equally taken. So when you see a stat that says 26% took the SAT, that does not include the other 20-30% that took the ACT. I agree that the stats are somewhat skewed when some states have 90% of their students taking the exam. But clearly when looking at the stats with an open mind it obvious that Arizona's scores are above the national average and therefore Arizona's reputation for being worst in education is not necessarily deserved.
 
Old 04-09-2012, 12:04 PM
 
16,587 posts, read 14,063,191 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scocar View Post
Your stat about 25% taking the ACT and SAT is wrong. In Arizona both tests are equally taken. So when you see a stat that says 26% took the SAT, that does not include the other 20-30% that took the ACT. I agree that the stats are somewhat skewed when some states have 90% of their students taking the exam. But clearly when looking at the stats with an open mind it obvious that Arizona's scores are above the national average and therefore Arizona's reputation for being worst in education is not necessarily deserved.
You are wrong, again.

You are claiming that if a student took the SAT they do not take the ACT. That is wrong. The top kids in most schools take BOTH based on geography.

Please provide evidence for your claim that over 50% of students in Arizona take college bound tests. Hell prove that even 50% of students in AZ are college bound.

Here let me help you.


HigherEdInfo.org: College-Going Rates of High School Graduates - Directly from High School

Not even 45% of AZ students go on to college of any kind let alone a 4 yr school. And you are claiming that 25% take the SAT and another 30% take the ACT. That means 55% of AZ kids are taking tests for 4 yr programs and then not going???

Notice AZ dead last at number of kids going on to college.

Oh and some more fallacies on your part. More kids in AZ take the SAT than ACT.

ACT (test) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


So really it isn't about being "open-minded" its about understanding what the numbers really mean. And maybe a little bit about academic honesty.
 
Old 04-09-2012, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,720 posts, read 25,525,017 times
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There is some data for school performance by state that is consistent on a national basis. The "Nation's Report Card" includes data for all 50 states and is based on the same test results. If you take the time dive into the data you can learn some interesting things. Unfortunately the data stops at 8th grade, so it doesn't report much of what happens in high school.

But one example: it is frequently reported by many politicians, media, and educators that we need to spend more on K-12 education. Sometimes they will tout a state with a reputation for quality schools, such as Massachusetts. And they might compare it to a state like Texas (where I live). If you go through the data, you will learn that the main difference in performance between MA and TX is demographics. Because MA K-12 schools are largely "white" - its state level score is driven primarily by the performance of white children. TX on the other hand, has a dramatically larger non-white demographic. White kids in MA do slightly better than white kids in TX. Interestingly enough - blacks and Hispanics seem to do better in TX than in MA.

Please do not let this be a race issue. I am not asserting that white children are smarter. I am merely reporting that some ethnic groups typically do not perform as well in school (across the entire group). Why that is so should be the topic of another thread. In my example below I included Wash DC with MA and TX.

Start with state spending per pupil data, from the US Census:

http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/09f33pub.pdf

Examine, for whichever state you wish, national achievement data:

The Nation's Report Card - National Assessment of Educational Progress - NAEP
(I suggest looking at state mapping data for both reading and math)

I'll give you some examples:

Wash. DC - spent $16,408 per pupil in 2009
Mass - spent over $14,118 per pupil
Texas - spent $8540 per pupil

You might expect vastly better results in DC and MA, since they spend almost twice as much.

Guess what you find?

4th/8th grade reading
TX 219/287
DC 202/254
MA 242/299

4th/8th math
TX 240/287
DC 219/254
MA 252/299

DC has essentially the worst academic performance in the US, in spite of spending the 2nd highest amount of money.

You might conclude that MA has much better schools than Texas, perhaps comparable to how much more money they spend. But if you look at the data considering demographics, the results change. I'll show just 8th grade:

TX reading score/% of population
White 273/37
Black 249/13
Hispanic 251/46
Asian 280/4

MA reading score/%
White 279/74
Black 251/8
Hispanic 250/10
Asian 281/6
 
Old 04-09-2012, 01:04 PM
 
16,587 posts, read 14,063,191 times
Reputation: 20556
Sort of a thread hijack isn't it?

State spending per pupil is not consistent across states in how it is measured.
"Since not all states prescribe the use of the above financial accounting handbook and its definition of instruction for their school systems, some interstate disparities exist"

Additionally, it ignores the different costs of living in each area. COL is MA is significantly higher than TX.
Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed
Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

So if the average cost of living is 100 (Sperlings system not mine) in the US then MA is 132 and Texas is 88. That means COL in MA is 150% higher than texas (132/88) and its cost per pupil (14118/8540) is 163% higher. So really the only comparision is does the 13% difference (163-150) accounted for by an increase in scores. And it appears to be.

Is that 13% worth it ($1308 more per student btw when you control for cost of living). Well MA has a higher graduation rate (81% vs. 75%) and more kids go to college. So that may have to be personal value choice on how much you value those students who graduated who likely wouldn't have otherwise.

Last edited by Yac; 04-11-2012 at 06:24 AM..
 
Old 04-09-2012, 01:10 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,983 posts, read 102,540,351 times
Reputation: 33045
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoffdano View Post
There is some data for school performance by state that is consistent on a national basis. The "Nation's Report Card" includes data for all 50 states and is based on the same test results. If you take the time dive into the data you can learn some interesting things. Unfortunately the data stops at 8th grade, so it doesn't report much of what happens in high school.
These tests are not national tests; they are state created. Anecdotally, I have heard that Texas has a fairly easy test. (I did hear this from a reliabel source, a person who helped create the CO tests.)
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