Monday, January 10, 2005


Two-thirds of Nebraska students can’t read and do math proficiently, according to statistics released in Quality Counts 2005, the big annual factbook of Education Week (

Using results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the publication concluded that 32 percent of Nebraska fourth-graders can read proficiently, and 35 percent of eighth-graders can.

That means 68 percent and 65 percent, respectively, read less than well.

For math, there’s been an improvement in fourth-grade NAEP scores, to 34 percent proficient; 32 percent of the eighth-graders tested met that mark. But again, the numbers indicate that 66 percent of fourth-graders and 68 percent of eighth-graders can do math only on an average or below-average basis.

What makes this report a little more depressing is that it is unknown how many students were excluded from taking the NAEP because of a label of being “learning disabled.” Nebraska has one of the highest rates in the nation for that designation, and a startlingly high rate of reported disabilities overall: public schools in the state report that 15.8 percent of the student body is disabled in some way.

Among other facts in the report:

-- Nebraska has 1,250 public schools, 21,043 public-school teachers, 285,402 students in pre-K through Grade 12, and spends $2.2 billion a year.

-- Nebraska is 24th among the states in total taxable resources spent on education, totaling 4 percent, compared to the national average, 3.8 percent.

-- Nebraska is one of only 10 states with “negative wealth-neutrality scores.” That means that property-poor districts have more state and local revenue for education than wealthy districts do. That should be another nail in the coffin of that “equity stick-up” lawsuit filed straight out of the “whine cellars” of the Omaha Public Schools and sidekicks.

-- Nebraska is one of only 10 states that won’t allow charter schools and has no school-choice system other than choosing between public schools, grouping it among the states with the least academic freedom in the U.S.

-- In the 2001-02 school year, Nebraska spent $8,741 per pupil for education, which was more than in 39 other states. Meaning, the Cornhusker State is No. 11 in spending, we don’t give our parents any options or choices, and yet two-thirds of our kids can’t read or do math very well. Hmm, hmm, hmmmmmm.

Greetings! Now GoBigEd has a comments section. Help me make this a really good public service blog by adding your insights, story ideas, and (courteous!) comments. We can all learn from each other! So let's . . . GoBigEd!
You have to be careful with NAEP scores. It's not really an academic test. It's more a measurement of how closely schools are aligning their curriculum with the de facto national curriculum. Nobody can see the questions, before or after the test is administered, and that's a red flag of monkey business. We need a lot more truth-in-testing in this country. I, for one, would like to see Nebraska students take the Iowa Basics, still a fairly solid standardized test.
Congrats to Go Big Ed on now having a "Comments" section. My observation is regarding the $8741 per student expenditure. With that kind of money, teachers should be getting a fair shake on salaries. Are ther too many of them, too many administrators, too much spent on fancy building or what? Just where is all this money going? We need performance audits in this state.
Post a Comment