Friday, January 10, 2003


The major education newspaper, Education Week, publishes an annual report on the status of K-12 public education with tons of rankings state by state. It's called "Quality Counts." You can see it for yourself at:

Quality Counts

This year, Nebraska fares very poorly on several measurements because of our "unique" assessment system. Instead of succumbing to the pressure of the federal educrats to knuckle under to the new federal curriculum and match a statewide, high-stakes assessment to it . . . the absolute bonehead thing to do, but unfortunately most states have done it . . . Nebraska took the Gomer Pyle course of action: sooprise, sooprise, sooprise -- we're going to develop our OWN bonehead system. So each district in the Cornhusker State is mutating its own assessment system in its own bonehead way and now it's a horrible mess that doesn't provide parents any accountabilitiy at all and is hurting kids.

But I digress. The point is, because Nebraska hasn't adopted the same nationalized, matchy-poo "standards" enforced by Politically Correct, Nazi-style national "assessments" pushed by radical left-wing socialists the way most other states have, Nebraska gets a crummy rating in "Quality Counts." So does Iowa, for the same reason.

But it doesn't matter.

Largely because of the qualities of Nebraska families -- solid demographics, good educational attainment by parents, not so much poverty, not so many immigrants, relatively stable family life compared to other states -- our schools actually have a pretty superior performance compared to those in other states on straight-up comparisons, such as the ACT.

Indeed, Nebraska seniors averaged a 21.7 score on the ACT test last time, while Louisiana seniors averaged a pitiful 19.6. Now compare their Quality Counts scores: Nebraska 52, Louisiana 92.

See? It's balderdash.

Similarly, New York got a 97 on the standards and accountability ratings in Quality Counts, but only 64% of its eighth-graders went on to graduate from high school in one recent measurement . . . while 84% of Nebraska eighth-graders got that sheepskin on time.

We have plenty of problems with our assessment system in Nebraska, and in fact, I have two strong recommendations for it:

1) Scrap it.

2) Buy Iowa Basics tests from pre-1965, when the nationalization of America's schools began, and give THOSE to kids as a true measurement of academic achievement.

It's OK to let Nebraska be a laughingstock for the unique way we've screwed up our assessment system. But let the record show: we haven't screwed ours up anywhere near as much as most states have.

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