Boots & Sabers

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0858, 02 Oct 18

Wisconsin Test Results Released by DPI

Seriously… is this good enough?

The latest round of tests administered to Wisconsin public school students show less than half of students in grades 3 through 8 scoring proficient or better in English/language arts and math, benchmarks that haven’t been surpassed in the previous two years either, according to results released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction.


DPI officials also released scores from the ACT exam, required of all high school juniors and used in college admissions to test student readiness. In the fourth year of this mandate, the composite ACT score for 11th-graders was 19.7 out of a possible 36, down from 20.0 in the previous school year.

“By and large, we have some consistency arising,” DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said. “There is not a lot of change.”

Maybe it is. Maybe the test scores reflect an accurate portrayal of the spectrum of intelligence innate in Wisconsin’s kids. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe our education system is failing too many of our kids.

If one accepts the latter supposition, then what are we going to do about it? And no, “spend more money” is not the answer. While that is an easy answer for politicians, the data shows that spending more money does not drive better results. So what else?

School Choice Wisconsin points out that Choice Kids are consistently scoring better.

Data released today by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) shows that again this year, students in the Parental Choice Programs are outperforming their peers. As with all test data, a one-year snapshot has limitations but the trend of higher scores for students on a voucher is great news for students and taxpayers.

“All three Parental Choice Programs, comprised predominately of low-income students, outscored their full-income counterparts across the entire state in public schools on the ACT,” Jim Bender said. “Combined with the Forward Exam, these results highlight superior outcomes at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers.”

And I would point out that most Choice School spend less per student than public schools. Granted, the data is skewed because it stands to reason that parents of Choice kids are generally more involved in their kids’ educations and parental involvement improves educational outcomes. But those parents were just as involved when their kids were forced to attend public schools. Perhaps more choice is part of the answer to allow parents to find the best learning environment for their kids.

What else? Pay teachers more? I’m all for that if they are delivering better outcomes. But why would we pay more money to the same people and expect different results? The only reason to raise teacher pay is to attract better teachers.

Better curriculum? Perhaps. We have certainly seen multiple experiments over the years, but the results still seem to stay stagnant.

More time in school? All year school and longer school hours would give kids more opportunity to learn. That would come at the price of less time for extracurricular activities, family time, work, etc. Are we willing to do it?

Or do we revert to the position that the results we are getting for the gobs we spend on education is “good enough?” Despite all of the bloviating from politicians and advocates, the lack of serious reform year after year leads me to believe that we have accepted these results as good enough – even if nobody wants to admit it.


0858, 02 October 2018


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    It’s all about the lazy, government, monopoly of public schools.

    Schools need to be privatized, opening them up to vigorous competition for students.

  2. jjf

    See, what you need to do is overlook all the factors that certain people will point to as the external reasons that might drag a kid down.

    Then assume that if anyone out there, across the world and across the centuries, has found a superior and infallible model for teaching kids, they are not only not telling you but that you and anyone else are unable to discover it.

    Once you’ve done this, you can assume that what you need to do is cut the funding for the public schools and funnel more tax dollars to religious schools, and presto, problem solved!

  3. MaxwellsEQs


    Milwaukee has been experimenting with vouchers and privatization of schools for almost 30 years. The results for private schools in Milwaukee are no better than public schools. The voucher schools have the same group of students, the same group of teachers, and the same group of administrators. Given that fact it seems unreasonable to expect different results.

    Our schools have never been great. I am reminded of quote from “To Kill a Mocking Bird”   “…The most ridiculous example I can think of is that the people who run public education promote the stupid and idle along with the industrious — because all men are created equal, educators will gravely tell you, the children left behind suffer terrible feelings of inferiority.” – Harper Lee 1935

    I think the best way to improve education in our society is to value knowledge. Our society does not value intelligence or knowledge. Few people read or attempt to improve themselves intellectually. Educated or Intelligent people are not valued (With the possible exception of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking). The top rated sitcom in our society portrays educated intellectuals as socially inept fools (Big Bang Theory). Our governor dropped out of college. Our current president is a moron. The last republican President, George Bush, was well educated, but routinely pretended to be stupid to court his base.

    Why should a student work hard in school?




  4. Paul


    And Harper Lee (college dropout) didn’t say that in 1935.  That was Atticus Finch…published in 1960.

    But condescend to us on knowledge while invoking Tyson.  It makes it easy for us to dunk on you.

  5. MaxwellsEQs

    The quote was from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird” which was published in 1960. The character in the book makes the statement in 1935.

  6. dad29

    Both Tyson and Hawking are educated far beyond their intelligence….so why should anyone venerate them?

    What SHOULD be valued is truth, and ‘education’ is not a certain path to truth.  See, e.g., Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind,” which is now about 30 years old.

    You seem to think that “the educated” deserve better than they get.  That may be true (and it may be false.)  Unfortunately, you equate “better” with fame or fortune or power–none of which are actually desirable in and of themselves.

    IOW, your priorities are askew.  Maturity may remedy that for you.

  7. jjf

    “Educated beyond their intelligence.”  What does that mean?

    MaxwellsEQs only said “Educated or Intelligent people are not valued.”  What part of that do you dispute?

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