Boots & Sabers

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0915, 16 Nov 19

Wisconsin’s Grade Inflation

It’s not just for kids anymore. This from Dr. Will Flanders at WILL, writing for RightWisconsin.

A Lake Wobegon Effect? Wisconsin is a state, according to the latest report cards, where (almost) everyone is above average.Despite proficiency rates in that hover around 40% in both math and reading, 87% of schools in the state meet or exceed expectations.

A part of the explanation for this is that growth and proficiency make up different shares of a school’s overall achievement score depending on the number of low income kids in the school. Because low income kids start from behind in many cases, growth makes up a bigger share of the score when a school has more low income kids.

It is laudable to account for student growth, but we should recognize that it makes comparisons between schools more difficult. When a school like Kluge Elementary in Milwaukee “Meets Expectations” with proficiency rates of 4.1% in math and reading, something is unbalanced.

If proficiency rates are 40% and 87% of schools are considered to meet or exceed expectations, then our expectations are woefully low. The soft bigotry of low expectations isn’t very soft anymore.


0915, 16 November 2019


  1. jjf

    It’s almost like there’s some sorts of racist policies that have been in place for generations that built segregation in Milwaukee, and we see the effect in schools.

    Wisconsin Constitution. “Section 3. The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years; and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein;..”

    Who thinks the schools are as “uniform as practicable”?

  2. Kevin Scheunemann

    It is hard bigotry of low expectations.

    Only thing that will raise standards is competition of schools in marketplace.

    We need to abolish the criminal public school monopoly fostering the bigotry.


  3. Le Roi du Nord

    “Only thing that will raise standards is competition of schools in marketplace”.    Nonsense.

    “the criminal public school monopoly fostering the bigotry”.  Utter nonsense.

  4. Mar

    jjf, a lot has to with how a district spends it’s money. If a district has more administrators, more teachers who don’t teach but are in an office all day long, if they spend more money on social justice instead of textbooks and so on, the chances increase that the district will be a failure.
    And Le Roi, competition among schools and school districts does help. If too many kids are fleeing a school or a district, people take notice and wonder what is wrong with their district.

  5. jjf

    “Instead of textbooks and so on.”  Is that how you think schools work, is that how you think the racist policies that created Milwaukee’s segregation can be addressed?

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