Wisconsin vs. Texas: Whose Students Perform?

Paul Krugman bemoaned the performance of Texas schools two weeks ago. Basically he associated how little Texas spends on education with how poorly our students do.

David Burge at Iowahawk thought there might be something wrong with Krugman’s numbers. So decided to compare Wisconsin, with above-average spending per student of $10, 680, and Texas, with below-average spending per student of $8,320 (2008 numbers, latest available). Of course, his primary reason is that Wisconsin is newly notorious for its collective bargaining, and Texas is a state which allows no public-employee collective bargaining. Burge then broke down the only comparable set of numbers he could find, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, by ethnic group. The results were instructive.

You can read the results on his original blog or on Harvard professor Paul Peterson’s blog. (Peterson basically endorses Bluge’s conclusions.) Bluge defends his methodology here. But, for convenience’s sake, here they are:

2009 4th Grade Math

White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

2009 8th Grade Math

White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 292)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 266)

2009 4th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

2009 8th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

2009 4th Grade Science

White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

2009 8th Grade Science

White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

In every category, as you can see, low-spending, non-unionized Texas beats high-spending, very-unionized Wisconsin.

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