Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Wisconsin: Some Friendly Constitutional Advice

This article [12 pp. pdf] by William A. Niskanen is part of the Spring 2007 Marquette Law Review issue from the recent Symposium: Is the Wisconsin Constitution Obsolete. He prefaces his recommendations on constitutional changes regarding education with some factual background (p. 709) [footnotes omitted].
The record of public education in Wisconsin is impressive relative to the national average. ...

The problem, however, is that the current national average grossly underestimates the potential performance of American students. The difference between the relative and absolute performance of a school system is illustrated by the new Cato Index of Education Market Performance; Wisconsin has the highest score of any state on this index but with an absolute score of 26 on a 100 point scale. Professor Caroline Hoxby of Harvard has estimated that the average productivity of American schools declined by around 55% (based on math tests for nine-year-olds) or 73% (based on reading tests for seventeen-year-olds) between the 1970–1971 and 1998–1999 school years. The average seventeen-year-old in the 1970–1971 school year had a score that fewer than 5% of American seventeen-year-olds now attain.

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