Shaming South Carolina
April 03, 2009, 06:36 AM
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From an article in the New York Times, "Education Secretary Says Aid Hinges on New Data," about how Obama`s Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants more data on school performance so he can shame states into performing better:
Speaking with reporters in a conference call, Mr. Duncan inadvertently demonstrated how the information collected from states could be used to try to shame educators and public officials into making changes.

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a Republican who advocates issuing taxpayer-financed vouchers that parents can use to send their children to private schools, has told the Obama administration that he would not accept some $577 million in educational stimulus money for South Carolina unless he could use it to pay down state debt.

Mr. Duncan unleashed a barrage of dismal statistics about the South Carolina schools, noting that only 15 percent of the state’s black students are proficient in math ...

Oh, my gosh — only 15% of black students in South Carolina are Proficient in math! Obviously, that`s the fault of that racist Republican governor.

The funny thing is, though, that if you go look up the data for yourself on the handy federal National Assessment of Education Progress website, it says for black 8th graders:

"The percentage at or above Proficient in South Carolina (15) is higher than the National Public (11)."
South Carolina`s black 8th graders rank 7th in the country at percent proficient in math — a rather good performance for what`s not a wealthy state.

In contrast, in Illinois, where Arne Duncan was in charge until very recently of many of the state`s black 8th graders as Chicago Schools boss, only 7% are Proficient at Math, which is less than half South Carolina`s figure. Illinois ranks 10th from the bottom on this measure that the Chicagoan data wizard chose to use to shame South Carolina.

Do you get the feeling that Duncan`s not really going to make good use of additional data?