A report issued last week by a Washington think tank shows Wisconsin No. 1 in yet another public education index – only this time, being first among the 50 states wasn’t the preferred spot.
In a study of how states are carrying out the federal No Child Left Behind education law, a group called Education Sector rated the states on how well they’re outsmarting the law. Wisconsin was the leading circumventer, according to the analysts, who refused to buy state numbers that indicate virtually every school district and virtually every school is meeting federal improvement standards.
“(The study) ranks Wisconsin as the most optimistic state in the nation,” reports Education Sector on its web site, www.educationsector.org. “Wisconsin scores well on some educational measures, like the SAT, but lags behind in others, such as achievement gaps for minority students. But according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the state is a modern-day educational utopia where a large majority of students meet academic standards, high school graduation rates are high, every school is safe and nearly all teachers are highly qualified.”
The report goes on to note that school districts around the nation are struggling to make “Adequate Yearly Progress,” the primary standard of school and district success under No Child Left Behind. In Wisconsin, however, hitting the standard is a piece of cake. All but one of Wisconsin’s 426 school districts made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2004–05.
“How is that possible?” the Education Sector report asked. “The answer lies with the way Wisconsin has chosen to define the Adequate Yearly Progress standard.”