Wisconsin vs. Texas, on education

This piece is marred by some unfortunate polemics, but it makes one core point very effectively:

To recap, white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin,black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin,Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin.

I can't do cut and paste on this Mac, so here is the link: http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html

I thank several MR readers for the pointer.

Comments

Wow, this is taking this website to a new low, quoting a wingnut website like this. If he read Krugman's article, he was talking about spending per pupil and the state of Texas. And he was correct. Why can't these Krugman critics just make intelligent criticisms without having to make ad hominem attacks?

Tom,

"quoting a wingnut website"

"intelligent criticisms without having to make ad hominem attacks"

...

Iowahawk can be hilarious, this is a blog not an NBER paper.

that was sarcasm.

"Why can't these Krugman critics just make intelligent criticisms without having to make ad hominem attacks?"

Because Krugman is a an ad hominem attack.

I am confused, if all ethnic groups in Texas outperform their respective ethnic group in Wisconsin, how can the overall ACT scores in Texas be so much lower than in Wisconsin ?

and why do we care about the specific comparison of texas and wisconsin? why doesn't he compare all of the collective-bargaining-illegal states? oh, he's just trying to show krugman's argument is faulty? well congratulations, what an achievement.

"Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators..." and Burge cherry picks one to compare to Wisconsin. I wonder why.

At first glance, it looks bad for Wisconsin in this comparison with Texas. A couple notes of caution:

1) Iowahawk says participation is pretty much universal in the tests. That may be true, but the data on which the reports Iowahawk refers to are based on a sample of about 2500 students in each state.

See: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/nathow...

2) That means that any comparisons of two states are between two estimates. So any statement that a subgroup in Texas scored better than a subgroup in Wisconsin should be qualified with some measure of the Standard Error of the difference. It's quite possible that results for the entire relevant populations could be reversed in some of the subgroups.

I should note that it would seem 17-1 is a pretty bad score for Wisconsin even if some of that difference is just due to chance. Also that the polemics of the blog post by Iowahawk make me distrust him.

I grew up in Texas (Houston) and my friend grew up in Wisconsin (Wauwatosa). His school didn't have tracking and I was heavily tracked from 4th grade all the way through high school. I think there were something like 5 levels of Senior English at my school.

No idea if that's uniform throughout the state, but could explain some of the discrepancy.

NAEP is only given to 4th and 8th graders. There really isn't another test given to all students nationwide like that.(SAT/ACT aren't required).

"how can the overall ACT scores in Texas be so much lower than in Wisconsin ?"

The ACT is only popular with universities in the Mid-West. The SAT is more broadly accepted, hardly anyone from Texas would take the ACT unless they wanted to go to U of Chicago or Iowa State or something.

@ Michael Kogan:

Offtopic - your father's name wouldn't happen to have been Boris, would it?

That means that any comparisons of two states are between two estimates. So any statement that a subgroup in Texas scored better than a subgroup in Wisconsin should be qualified with some measure of the Standard Error of the difference. It's quite possible that results for the entire relevant populations could be reversed in some of the subgroups.

A lot of MR posts lately have made me curious about the underlying statistics. Mostly we argue about causes and effects but how reliable are all these data?

As Frank Howland points out, there is a lot of sampling and other statistical massaging that takes place behind the scenes. Are there any generic surveys about the quality and reliability of the techniques used in the social sciences datasets? Maybe we are all arguing about a non-existent effect? Lies, damned lies and statistics?

There could be a bunch of intervening variables on the Mexican statistics.

One variable affecting child performance is whether the child has school continuity--remains in the same school or goes to a different school every year or even within the year.

If Wisconsin's hispanic population is more mobile (agriculture) or even new to the community, it will have different test results than an hispanic population that is stable and in one place for a long time.

I do not see any controls in these studies...continuity, parents ability to speak English, first generation ESL speaking, immigrant v . multigeneration, rural v. urban etc.

Here is a UW report on the Wisconsin hispanic population. http://www.apl.wisc.edu/publications/HispanicChar...

Note: it is a new population, primarily composed of first generation Mexicans, half have moved to Milwaukee, 40% were born outside of the US, and they have higher poverty rates.

This is a site that supposedly is visited by economists. No one is talking about controls in comparing Wis to Tex for poverty, first generation ESL, country of origin of parent, continuity in the community, how recent the person even was in the community, language used in the school (ESL).

Bill:

This is the internet. Check the number of migrant workers in the respective states, don't speculate in a direction that supports your cause without doing the work. Are you going to seriously suggest that Texas has fewer recent Hispanic immigrants (poor, limited English, ....)?

EVEN IF Texas were not ahead, the fact that it is not behind is more than enough to make the point. If negative correlated is (again) demonstrated, well that's just gravy.

Regarding Steve Miller's point about command-C for copy and Command-V for paste, the Command button is the one that looks like a cloverleaf (the text "Command" may or may not be present on the keyboard and there may or may not be an Apple symbol next to the cloverleaf).

If you are using a Windows keyboard on a Mac, the Windows key maps to the Command key.

Hope that helps!

Bill,

Interesting point, but 40% of 3.2% is 1.28%.

By what mechanism(s) that doesn't raise costs do unions improve quality? Anyone can improve quality by raising costs, even the government...sometimes.

The NAEP data are generally reliable. One problem that we are becoming of aware of is that the sample of students who take the tests is not representative. This is because schools are permitted to exclude disabled and English language learner students. As these students are likely to perform poorly, this has the effect of inflating every single state's score. But, because states have different policies and different category identification policies and exclusion policies, the amount of the increase due to exclusions likely varies from state to state.

Looking at the exclusion numbers, it is obvious that Texas had a policy of excluding large numbers of ELL students from the 2009 tests. In the fourth grade, 21% of Texas students were identified as ELL, and 6% of students were excluded from taking the test because they were ELL. California, another state with a large number of ELL students, identified 30% of its fourth graders as ELL, but only 1% of students were excluded because they were ELL.

The effect of exclusion policies in the Texas-Wisconsin comparison is hard to gauge. Texas excluded 9% of its fourth graders in 2009 as compared to 4% for Wisconsin. In eighth grade, the total exclusion rate was the same--5%.

Based solely on a cursory look at the date, it appears that differential exclusion rates affect the fourth grade reading test to a large degree but not any of the other tests. The scores are close enough, however, that I would not comfortably draw any conclusion from the data.

There appears to be a market failure in Mac usage.

I'm so old that I remember when MS aped Apple for copy/paste, finally giving up on using the F-keys for that.

It seems pretty clear that Krugman made some assertions that Iowahawk shot down. Now Bill and others are trying to salvage Krugman's bacon.

Looking at the Pew Hispanic center site, it appears that the percentage of foreign born Hispanics is very similar in WI and TX (34% and 32%).

I love it. Krugman uses data that doesn't control for any variables to make some fatuous point about his opponents being evil. Someone controls for one variable to show that the data does not necessarily prove Krugman's point. Krugman's allies get angry that someone would dare use data without controlling for all variables.

I did not need additional proof for the uselessness of nobel prizes.

But, krugman/obama's nobels tell us far more about the prizes than about the two turduckens.

Bill,

The link you shared shows that Texas identified just over 2 times as many ELL students in the sample as Wisconsin, and excluded....just over 2 times as many ELL students. Their exclusion rates were .31 for TX and .29 for Wisconsin. The numbers for both were so small that the difference is not statistically significant. So...what are you trying to show here? That your earlier complaint about WI having more first-generation immigrants doesn't show up as an issue in the data? Or something else?

So far as I can tell, the comparison between Wisconsin and Texas (and four other southern states) that the Iowahawk blog post seeks to rebut appears to have made by the Economist's blog, not by Paul Krugman. I don't know what Krugman has to do with this, other than that conservatives don't like him.

People are always asking why am I so OBSESSED with pointing out unpleasant differences between ethnicities. Can we all just remember them in the back of our minds without mentioning them publicly. After all, everybody knows that Texas's overall performance is dragged down by its huge number of Hispanic students, right?

Except that Krugman didn't know or chose not to remember that simple fact -- and the vast majority of his readers would therefore be clueless.

No, when we try to hide the truth, it gets forgotten, as in this case.

"I can't do cut and paste on this Mac"

that is a scandal

Hispanic population

Texas 6,200,000 (Thats more human beings than live in Wisconsin BTW)

Wisconisin 238,000

Assuming the same percentage are under 18 (28% in Texas) the potential hispanice student population is:

Texas 1,736,000

Wisconsin 68,000

Wisconsin better just work on this problem, really.

Krugman mentioned drop out rates of 30%

Texas hispanic drop outs 520,000

Wisconsin 19,995

Yeah, real problem in Wisconsin with 20,000 drop outs. They can always move to Texas where they can compete with the 1.7 million illegal immigrants.

Bill,

The 2.5 times figure you cited was from the second column. 5 excluded in TX, 2 excluded in WI. Considering the large disparity in the populations between the two, one would expect TX to have more, so that in itself is not informative. The question is, did they exclude more than would be expected, based on their respective populations? For that, one indicator is column 1, the number of ELL students identified, inclusive of both the excluded and included students. Here we see a slightly closer ratio of 2.3 times as many ELL students in TX as in WI. With only 16 in TX and 7 in WI, total, we can't really ascribe the difference between 2.3 and 2.5 to any systematic factor. It's probably just random variation.

So my point is, the number of excluded ELL students in TX is about in line with what we would expect, considering the larger proportion of ELL students in the state overall. This doesn't, by itself, show that TX is dropping the ELL students to improve their scores, unless WI is doing so, as well. If anything, this shows that one of your earlier requests, that it control for the number of ESL students, has been addressed by excluding ELL from the test populations. Thus if WI somehow has more ESL students than TX, it wouldn't affect the test scores, because those ESL students would be excluded from the tests.

One other note from the data, WI appears to be more likely to provide accommodations to the ELL students who are assessed (40%) than TX is (18%), which seems likely to result in higher scores for WI ELL students who are assessed. That still doesn't prove anything, since it could be that WI has a higher threshold for exclusion, and provided accommodation to students that TX would exclude. There doesn't seem to be much evidence from the identified/excluded numbers to suggest that the threshold is much different, though.

Boonton, If anything it appears Texas is leading in educational output relative to other states.

Podunk:

This is an Economics website, but that doesn't prevent us commentators from adding more light than heat and I think Bill has added to the discussion. I think you are right that dropout rates need to be disaggregated. However, it should be noted that dropout rates are likely overstated under current methodology. According to Heckman and LaFontaine (2007), the current approved method compares the number of graduates to the number of 9th graders. However the number of 9th graders is overstated because this is the most common grade for students to be held back, and this bias is even greater for minority students. Things may have changed, but I would still be skeptical about reported dropout rates.

Source: IZA DP No. 3216
The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels
James J. Heckman Paul A. LaFontaine December 2007

Cliff, No, that's wrong. They exclude MORE ELL on a percentage basis.

I'm so old that I remember when Apple users made fun of Windows users for having all of those "useless" keys (Ctrl, Alt, Backspace, left mouse button, etc.).

Rahul,

No. That would only be if the things you are controlling for are not relevant to the thing being measured (educational performance). Controlling for left and right-handedness would certainly make no difference, but maybe if you somehow mined the data to sufficient fineness, you could find some meaningless division that would make Texas look better even though it is not. That is clearly not the case here. When you control for something that itself is confounding the comparison, you improve the comparison.

Podunck, With this comment, aren't you in effect saying that Wisconsin scores higher in test scores than Texas for ELL students:

You said: 'One other note from the data, WI appears to be more likely to provide accommodations to the ELL students who are assessed (40%) than TX is (18%), which seems likely to result in higher scores for WI ELL students who are assessed.'

Sorry about commenting twice on the same issue! I didn't see that the first comment had actually posted.

From Bill:

Cliff, No, that's wrong. They exclude MORE ELL on a percentage basis.

Bill, using the numbers you provided:

5%/16% for Texas vs. 2%/7% for Wisconsin are very roughly equal, and, indeed, if for example, that 2% were just 2.1%, while every other number had zero after the decimal point, Wisconsin would have had a higher ratio of exclusion, so, without more precise data, you can't even call the calculated ratios statitiscally different. Sheesh!

I also want to step back and ask several logic points here:

1. Texas has had a history of dealing with hispanic populations; Wisconsin, at least from the data, has had an influx. Do you or should you handicap for change or inexperience. What if the hispanic population is spread out in a rural area school system, for example, and there is no ESL support, but there will be in the future.

2. Half of the hispanic school population from the Wisconsin resides in Milwaukee county. Are we measuring Wisconsin, or an inner city school system. How is the Texas population spread out or concentrated. Are resources concentrated as well to deal with ESL issues.

3. What is the income level of both populations (controlling for cost of living)? Income and Socio economic status effects outcomes. So does parent ability to speak english. 40% of Wisconsin's hispanic population was born outside of the US. What is Texas's?

I am not an expert in any of these statistics. Not at all and by no means. It just took one click to find a report on Wisconsin's hispanic population and a UW report to raise questions and make some obvious points. Maybe there are better statistics. Maybe the statistics we are looking at re NAEP scores should be interpreted differently. I'm no expert.

Frankly, I am an agnostic on this and want to know more, but it seems that if it gets tied into politics, or your favorite ( or disfavored) economist, or your favorite website, then logic stops and you have to wonder: did this person say that because he is defending or attacking that person, what sources should I look for because I may be mislead. Why is that? Why should we have that kind of discussion??? Is it because it is a website, talk is cheap, electrons are cheap. Yeah, sure, its not an econ journal, and none of this is peer reviewed, but there should be data for this, and its pretty clear there are a whole bunch of variables that lead to results. The world is complex, and maybe that's the problem when talk is cheap.

Cliff, I see your point. I was looking at for a population of 100, Texas excludes 5 for Wisconsin's 2. You are right though in that texas has higher ELL than Wisconsin.

Rahul,

Being a substitute for something that is causative is good enough. No way this is Simpson's rule. Race has an impact on test scores for one reason or another, the effect is too large and consistent to question.

Yancey and Cliff, Apparently you like ideology. I like facts. Yes, the world is complex.

44% of Texas k-12 is hispanic; 8% Wis k-12 is hispanic and 50% is in Milwaukee school system.

Stop hounding him into making a concrete statement! He is only following in the proud tradition of Tyler of trying to insinuate clever things. If you interpret him incorrectly, it's only your fault that you're not clever enough.

All macs have copy and paste...unless they released something brand new without that functionality.

Bill,

I am not trying to bully you, but I won't let your bullshit go uncontested. You are constantly getting caught making inconsistent statements about, or making erroneous interpretations, of data you, yourself, bring to the discussion (like above on ELLs exclusions); and when it is explicitly pointed out to you, you refuse to admit that you made a mistake, or in this case, pretend that you didn't understand the objections requiring the objectors to make further descriptions of where you went wrong-Podunk, Cliff, and myself- then you trot out the "you are only interested in ideology rather than facts" complaint to which you are constantly resorting. This is a consistent pattern with you- if the "facts" you tout don't convince people, or those "facts" are shown to no mean what you claim, then post some more "facts" that you twist, and repeat. And when all else fails, pretend not to understand that you were wrong to begin with.

On the issue at hand- sure, there are a lot of unknowns in comparing Wisconsin to Texas, but would you not agree that the blog entry of Iowahawk was at least as relevant for comparison as the data Krugman was using, and leads to a different conclusion? Yes or no?

What clown would ever think that ELL rather than all students should be the denominator for the relevant fraction of excluded students? Bill is clearly right on that.

It is funny how people are trying to turn this into a "who are you rooting for" debate instead of a discussion of what is.

Iowahawk deserves a Pulitzer.

Krugman deserves unemployment.

However my breath is not held.

...the NAEP data reflect well for Texas compared to Wisconsin.

They make all 5 of the states that restrict collective bargaining look good compared to Wisconsin:

http://www.learnedhand.com/naep2.html

Yancey and Cliff

I can see we are speaking to different numbers. JLOs earlier post (which you may not have seen because it was not addressed in your comments) stated that states have different ELL standards; that is, they get to classify ELL. So when one state says 17% are ELL in 4th grade, and another says a number 2 and a half times less (Wisconsin) and you take the same percentage exclusion factor across both ELL classes, you get to different numbers that are excluded, which changes the composition of the mix in the pool that is being tested. Texas has 16-17% ELL, Wisconsin 7%. According to JLO below, ELL classification is done by the state, so if you classify ELL low you get a bigger percentage than if you classify high. And, if you take the same ELL class and apply the same percentage across it, and then exclude, you actually are excluding from the mix students who would be in the other states comparable population.

Here is what JLO said: "The NAEP data are generally reliable. One problem that we are becoming of aware of is that the sample of students who take the tests is not representative. This is because schools are permitted to exclude disabled and English language learner students. As these students are likely to perform poorly, this has the effect of inflating every single state's score. But, because states have different policies and different category identification policies and exclusion policies, the amount of the increase due to exclusions likely varies from state to state.

Looking at the exclusion numbers, it is obvious that Texas had a policy of excluding large numbers of ELL students from the 2009 tests. In the fourth grade, 21% of Texas students were identified as ELL, and 6% of students were excluded from taking the test because they were ELL. California, another state with a large number of ELL students, identified 30% of its fourth graders as ELL, but only 1% of students were excluded because they were ELL."

Similarly, when Podunk responded, he noted that Wisconsin performed better than Texas for ELL students. Wonder why.

I am looking for state classifications for ELL and I am trusting of JLOs comment. If JLO is correct, and that states overclassify to ELL, even if they applied the same percentage of ELL students being disqualified, there is an inflated base in one, and a different base in the other.

The result I am pointing to is that Texas excludes 5 for Wisconsins 2. Based on the Pew database, both states have roughly the same percentage of students that are in families where Spanish is the primary langage, yet Texas has a 16% ELL rate and Wisconin a 16% rate. Texas has 78% of language other than English spoken at home: http://pewhispanic.org/states/?stateid=TX Wisconsin has 71% of households speaking other than English at home. http://pewhispanic.org/states/?stateid=WI

That difference should not account for a two and a half times difference in ELL classification. Also, if you look at demographics of country of origin of parents, they are both close as well.

So, JLOs point is that ELL exclusion rates go into test exclusions which affect overall scores. The exclusion rate for ELL for Texas is two and a half times the rate for Wisconsin. This suggests an inflated base, meaning you get to throw out more scores.

Second, if you start with a 4th grader, in both states, Texas has a much higher dropout rate. This means, as people drop out of the pool, the remaining students test scores increase. I will find the Texas dropout rate and the Wisconsin dropout rate, but I have seen references to higher dropout rates,

Third, density does matter. Half of the hispanic school children are in Milwaukee schools; there is only 8% hispanic shool population, whereas Texas is 44% hispanic. I don't know Wisconsin, but I do know my state, and school districts that have had no hispanic population and suddenly have an increase have few spanish speaking teachers and little experience in adjusting to change. If students are in a rural district, there are even fewer resources if they are a minority speaking language group. As to Milwaukee, I would look at matching similar populations centers in Texas with Milwaukee, recoginizing inner city schools need resources.

On the last point--inner city schools need resources--or that hispanic students may need resources, what are they doing in Wisconsin and Texas---cutting school budgets. I know, I will hear that money doesn't mean anything, but that is why parents also take their kids out of public schools when the budgets are cut, which, as a market reaction, may be telling you something as well.

Krugman, along with everybody else who comments on state by state differences in social statistics, needs to memorize Moynihan's Rule of Proximity to the Canadian Border. From George Will's obituary of D.P. Moynihan:

"A social scientist trained to distinguish correlation from causation, and a wit, Moynihan puckishly said that a crucial determinant of the quality of American schools is proximity to the Canadian border."

typo in comment above: yet Texas has a 16% ELL rate and Wisconin a 7% rate.

foo,

Fair enough. It seems some of us (me included) have confounded two sources for criticizing Texas from the Iowahawk link.

Bill once again,

Keep spinning. Why did Texas outperform in the white demographic? In the black demographic?

Bill,

Just a clarification. I'm not sure whether WI ELL students did better than TX students. I just noted that more of them were given accommodations, which I assume would include translations or the like. Presumably this would raise their scores relative to no accommodations.

Also, thanks for the links to the Pew studies. One thing that I found interesting was that the 2.5 times number of excluded ELL students seems low. Roughly 12% of Texans are foreign-born Hispanics (32% of their 36% Hispanic population) compared to 1.7% of total Wisconsin residents. Obviously that's not a good proxy for ELL student populations, since we would expect a multiple more like 6.5 between WI and TX in that case. There are, of course, a lot of possible reasons for that. I'd guess that TX, with a long border with Mexico, has more Hispanic immigrants than other nationalities. Perhaps many of the WI ELL students are Asian or Canadian. It also may be that TX has better ESL programs that make it so fewer of their 4th graders are still ELL.

I've been following school test statistics since 1972 the way other people follow baseball statistics, and here's the bottom line: very little changes, over time or over space, in terms of the rankings:

1. Asian
2. White
3. Hispanic
4. Black

Sure, there are exceptions, sometimes whites beat Asians, sometimes blacks beat Hispanics, especially if most of the Hispanics can't speak English, but in the long run this is how it shakes out.

The big thing that changes over space and time is the demographic balance. Texas has lots and lots of Hispanics, a lot more than in 1972.

Some states might be better at educating or better at cheating on tests, but it's all pretty marginal compared to the demographics.

Thus, the most sensible long-term educational achievement policy is a sensible immigration policy.

Bill,

The 12% figure is based on the numbers from the Pew data. It's a proxy, obviously inexact (as I said), for the number of students who might be expected to be learning English in school, rather than having learned it in the home. Sure, the percentage of foreign-born Hispanics out of all Hispanics in WI and TX are the same, but there are only 286,000 Hispanics in WI, 5% of the population. In TX there are 8.8 million hispanics, which is 36% of the population. Why would you expect a state with 7 times as many Hispanic students (in percentage terms) to have the same percentage of ELL students excluded? You can't claim that more of the WI Hispanics are recent immigrants, because they have nearly identical proportions of new immigrants.

So the question seems to be, why only 2.5, and not 7 times as many? Both states exclude the same proportion of identified ELL students, but WI seems to find a lot more compared to the proportion of Hispanic students in the population. Is Wisconsin cheating by identifying more than one would expect based on the population? Or is TX better at getting ELL students up to a proficiency prior to 4th grade?

Also, the description of the data seems to be "Percentage of all fourth-grade public school students identified as English language learners, and percentage excluded and assessed in NAEP reading, by jurisdiction: 2007." That would seem to include all ELL students, not just Hispanic.

Podunk, I would expect ELL to be correlated with the variable foreign born (parent would be native language speaker). Wis and Tex variable is the same (equal percentages of foreign born hispanics), yet Tex has 2.5 times the number of ELL . Linking to total Tex or Wis pop seems irrelevant except for the likelihood that if there is a high percentage hispanic of total pop there would be more spanish speaking teachers and more capacity to do hispanic education as it is not a rarity, as it would be in a rural wis pop.

If you exclude the same proportion of ELL, but one state has a higher number of ELL, then JLOs point is that performance stats can be manipulated by having the state decide who is ELL. Aparently, per JLO, states manipulate this base. This seems the case here, as both Tex and Wi have the same proportion of first gen hispanic, yet Tex has 2.5 times higher ELL percentage.

You make a point that ELL could include non-hispanic. I have not checked, but the only other likely non-hispanic language in WI might be german, but there could be some Hmong. The only other non-english language in Texas that I am aware of is Southern.

The Iowahawk post raises some legitimate concerns for Texas and the entire U.S. (based on forecasted population trends). Why are hispanic high school drop out rates in Texas and Wisconsin higher than whites? Richard Nisbett, social psychologist at the University of Michigan, highlights how culture/beliefs can impact an individual's educational performance regardless of race in his new book. http://www.amazon.com/Intelligence-How-Get-School...

It seems to me that there should be more of a focus on incentivizing Spanish to English language learning skills for both parents and children. If someone's English language skills are delayed, it is only logical that all learning domains will be negatively impacted (In an English speaking educational system). Texas is at the frontier of population trends for the greater U.S, so folks in Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire should prepare to grapple with these issues as well. Based on Iowahawk's findings, it doesn't seem that the teacher unions are any catalyst for better performance.

Yancey, I just noted your comment and disagree. In looking at the tab referred to Iowahawk, which by the way is science, Texas did not outperform in the national grade scores. Here is the link: http://nationsreportcard.gov/science_2009/g8_stat... I could not find one that was general grade 8.

The average scale score for white demographic in Wis was 165 and per report not significantly different than Tex at 167. Wis black is 120, which is lower than national black at 125 and Tex higher 133.

Per the chart, average scale score for all students for Tex is 150, not signifcantly different than national at 149, but Wis is significantly higher per statement on chart at 157.

I also agree with Lone Star above that having the capacity in a school district to have teachers who speak spanish, I am willing to bet, does have an effect on learning outcomes.

Steve Sailer wrote:
very little changes, over time or over space, in terms of the rankings:

1. Asian
2. White
3. Hispanic
4. Black
[snip]
Some states might be better at educating or better at cheating on tests, but it's all pretty marginal compared to the demographics. Thus, the most sensible long-term educational achievement policy is a sensible immigration policy.

Do we tweak education to suit the population or tweak the population to suit the education-metrics? Steve's prescription seems misguided, almost dangerous. Test scores are ultimately not an end in themselves.

e.g. Prevalence of heart disease follow a similar trend: Black > White. To reduce cardiac morbidity would we advocate differential birth control?

Efficiency and pragmatism need to be tempered with ethics and morality.

The irony is that when Paul Krugman is 90 and Democrats rule the country because of the Hispanic vote, it will turn out to be a hollow victory for him. Why? Because the country won't be able to afford anything besides the current Texas Republican model of low spending, low regulation, and low taxes because a country that's half NAM won't generate enough wealth to pay for liberal policies.

Of course, Texas Republicans will be dealing with their own set of ironies...

Yancey, You stated: "Why did Texas outperform in the white demographic?" I responded: "The average scale score for white demographic in Wis was 165 and per report not significantly different than Tex at 167."

You did not respond to this: "Per the chart, average scale score for all students for Tex is 150, not signifcantly different than national at 149, but Wis is significantly higher per statement on chart at 157."

What Iowahawk did is what a good magician does: he takes your eye off the ball.

He took a five percent segment of Wisconsin and said: Wisconsin is not doing as well as Texas does for a 40% segment, implying that Texas must be doing better than Wisconsin FOR EVERYONE.

Funny how we move from a conclusion as to a 5% segment of Wis to be a total statement of Wis performance. Of course it wasn't. Wisconsin OUTPERFORMED Texas for ALL students.

Magic.

If you're using the term "Mexican" in this discussion you look like an idiot. Texas oddly enough had Hispanics living here before it was a state. We also get immigrants from throughout Latin and South America. In my neighborhood most of the people with limited English proficiency are not Mexican. So when you use the term Mexican you just sound racist. That isn't political "correctness", it's just a fact. It's like listening to someone use the terms "white" and "Irish" interchangeably.

I can't say much good about Texas' education system. Other than that there are some concerned parents and teachers who are working to make it better. Removing the limited English proficient from the averages are probably what makes it look so good. That said Texas has been steadily improving at standardized testing (whether this relates to actual education and/or the dropout rate is another question):
http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/his...

The real question will be what will happen this year. Texas balanced its budget the past two years with stimulus funds, and many of the schools were using education grants to fund programs that produced fantastic results. All that has dried up, so we're about to get a really interesting case study in whether more money = better education.

Yancey, I understand Iowahawks fallacy of composition. Take each segment at a time and ignore the total. Argue from the small minority and impute it to the large group (all students taught by all teachers), hoping that people ignore the large when it is set against a small segment, and shift to another segment, etc. You can be better by a segment and still worse off as a whole. Look at the other states that had a high minority hispanic segment--Arizona, Florida and Colorado. The point is: many high hispanic populations have higher hispanic test scores than low hispanic share states.

Works well.

Magic.

You know, if you are really unable to see that the ELL exclusion ratios are about the same in the two states, then why not focus on comparisons of the relative performances of African-American students? Krugman's fans won't like what they see there, either.

To sum up, Krugman pulled a fast one by making an apples to oranges comparison. And he pretty much got away with it, except for IowaHawk's fisking, because Americans are intellectually enfeebled by political correctness.

People like to say to themselves, "You don't have to be like that horrible Sailer person and come out and mention the data out loud in public. You can still avoid being a dupe of political manipulators like Krugman by just quietly remembering the facts about race in your head and not mentioning them out loud."

And, for some people, that's actually true. But for most, if you can't say it, you can't remember it. So, a Krugman can 99% get away with this kind of self-serving distortion because the Rules of Political Correctness make it costly for Americans to learn and to remember reality.

What I like about the Politifact piece is that there actually has been quite a bit of literature on this subject. Done by academics. No one--repeat no one--did what Iowahawk did: take one state to compare to another to make a universal point. (Can I pick my two states to make my point--would you be surprised if there were a different result.) Or would you expect someone to take all states and institute controls. Guess.

If you were designing an experiment, would you let someone chose one of 50 to go against another of 50, or would you examine them all at once and use controls for SES, resources, dropout rates, etc.

You can go very deep in the literature here. Lots of articles. Lots of different methodologies and studies across many states. None citing Iowahawk. None using one state to state comparison. Wonder why?

I think that individuals should not point fingers at anyone in particular. I just graduated from high school and I believe that it necessarily does not depend on the teachers the student has but also their home life and how they are treated. Kids will drop out for various reasons and all races are included in this. I also believe a kid will succeed if they want too, not if their parents want them too or if their teachers or loved ones want them too. Parents can tell their kids to study and try and help them succeed in school, but whether the kid really wants too or not is the deciding factor. I had some really great friends that dropped out because they were just going to go straight into working and not worry about going to college. Some students do have to do this to help out the family, but I feel if a student wants to succeed the parents should try all they can to help out their children.

Wisconsin and Texas are looking at the fact the Wisconsin is a union while Texas is not. I feel that it should not matter whether they are a union or not. A child will succeed whether they want too or not. From the evidence it appears from these statistical analysis, whites are either smarter or just greater achievers. If this is true then the real question at hand is why it is this way. We also need to figure out ways to close the achievement gap. By closing in the achievement gap we might be able to rule out that unions have a positive or negative effect on student achievement.

Yancey,

Maybe I can convince you in a different way.

Let's take two urns with balls in them. One urn is Wisconsin, the other Texas. We will just focus on hispanic balls for now.

In the wisconsin urn, there are hispanic balls with certain characteristics: hispanic, to be sure, but also SES (socio economic status), language ability, parent speaking english in the home, family income, etc...all of the factors that could conceivably go into producing an outcome of educational achievement. Follow me so far. The mix of the balls get pushed through the Wisconsin education production function and out pops a result.

In the Texas urn, same thing. There is a Texas education production function that is applied to its mix of hispanic balls; true, the balls have an hispanic element, but each ball has a different SES, income level, parent speaking english featrue, yada yada yada. You put this mix of balls through the Texas ed production function and you get a result.

Have you figured it out yet. I guess you will sometime, but you didn't control for the mix in each urn. sure, hispanic was one constant, but all the other attributes varied and were not controlled.

Yancey, let's look at it a different way if you didn't understand that. Let's assume the mix is constant across both urns (ie, identical hispanic attributes in the mix), and what varies is the production function between Wis and Tex. Does Tex put in more resources to the production fuunction; have different quality teachers than Wis; different class sizes, spanish speaking teachers but of lower academic quality, etc. Now, the production function varies. Basically, you haven't specified what in the production function is different, other than union status. You really think that is the difference in the production function????

So, what we have is a mix problem and unspecified production functions on both sides.

I am surprised you get any results....other than the result of one guy in Iowa picking one state and matching it to another where the mixes and production functions are different. Did he pick all 50 states, no. Hell, I can pick states too. Let me pick wisconin and another non-union state and see what I come up with. But, that's the point. Its stupid. And, its stupid to be appearing on an economics website. Stupid Stupid Stupid.

I don't expect you to understand this but others who deal with controlled experiments and multifunction problems will. Or, maybe you do understand it and just like to go back and forth.

Yancey, Go read my comments on statistics above, use of control variables, different populations that are not controlled for income, parental education, language used in the family. When you look at the urn example again, also remember that both urn owners get to reach in and take out some balls as well based on how they classify ELL..

Go do a chi square test on the two hispanic and white populations in Texas and Wisconsin, do a multiple regression analysis using all variables that affect student outcomes for Tex, Wisconsin and all states, do it across all states so you can determine the function that separates all state performance, put in a variable for union, non-union and unknown. When you get your coefficients for the variables, come back and tell me what the difference for union and non-union is. This two point observation where one person picks one state but doesn't pick others is stupid. Let me pick a non-union or no union state to compare to Wisconsin. I know what the answer is but it is not worth the time because the methodology is stupid.

If you were a drug company and handled statistics the way you do, I would not purchase drugs from you and would urge you to consume your own production.

Bill,

It is simple. If you believe I made a composition fallacy, prove it. If you have no data that demonstrates that the ethnic categories in the NAEP for Wisconsin and Texas are quite different, then my point stands unchallenged by anything more than your speculation. Right?

I would worry about a composition fallacy here only if any state in the NAEP data set, for any year, showed a widely different relative scoring ratio, but they don't. Again, prove me wrong. I wasn't the one making the extraordinary claim here, you were. Prove me wrong.

Yancey, above you began your comment "Bill your are a complete idiot..." Why didn't you just leave it at that? Why do you even bother to engage him?

Ziel, I read Iowahawk, and it is not a falsification piece-- he makes the positive assertion re non union states. Second, you didn 't read Krugman either--he was asserting that Texas effort to reduce education spending was misguided

Is it just me, or do I sometimes find some of Krugman's columns marred by unfortunate polemics?

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