Another List That We Trail

For the curious, I took a few obsessive-compulsive moments last night to compile the public school SAT data for all states. Rhode Island ranks 47th for every test except writing and 47th for total score. It’s interesting to note that states’ public school scores do not appear to correlate with private school scores, inasmuch as the public schools in the top 5 states tend to match or exceed their private peers.

Public School SAT Scores by State Ranking

Reading Math Writing Cumulative
Iowa 607 621 588 1816
Minnesota 599 610 579 1788
South Dakota 605 602 580 1787
Illinois 588 613 582 1783
Wisconsin 590 611 580 1781
Missouri 593 598 579 1770
North Dakota 592 607 566 1765
Michigan 579 602 570 1751
Kansas 582 593 566 1741
Utah 586 583 564 1733
Nebraska 577 583 563 1723
Tennessee 573 570 564 1707
Oklahoma 575 575 555 1705
Arkansas 575 570 559 1704
Colorado 566 577 555 1698
Kentucky 566 573 550 1689
Louisiana 568 567 553 1688
Wyoming 563 579 543 1685
Mississippi 569 550 559 1678
Alabama 562 558 551 1671
Montana 544 552 526 1622
New Mexico 545 536 524 1605
Idaho 539 541 515 1595
Ohio 529 543 514 1586
Washington 522 531 505 1558
Vermont 521 523 507 1551
Oregon 518 525 497 1540
Alaska 521 523 495 1539
Massachusetts 507 520 505 1532
Arizona 514 521 496 1531
New Hampshire 513 516 502 1531
Connecticut 503 507 506 1516
Virginia 508 510 496 1514
West Virginia 509 499 495 1503
California 494 513 493 1500
New Jersey 492 514 493 1499
North Carolina 492 511 478 1481
Maryland 490 498 490 1478
Indiana 492 505 477 1474
Nevada 495 504 474 1473
Pennsylvania 490 500 478 1468
Florida 492 495 475 1462
New York 484 503 475 1462
Texas 484 502 476 1462
Georgia 486 490 477 1453
South Carolina 484 496 471 1451
Rhode Island 483 487 479 1449
Delaware 482 483 471 1436
Maine 463 462 456 1381
Hawaii 456 473 441 1370
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Mike
Mike
12 years ago

where’s Ken to tell us how GREAT the Hawaii public schools are?
With the highest sales tax in America-they tax your food, they tax your shoes, they even tax your underwear!

David
David
12 years ago

Sorry folks, but this data is meaningless, because
(1) midwestern kids usually don’t take SAT, they take ACT; only the elite students trying to get into Eastern colleges take SAT’s, which skews the data, and
(2) the more students in a state who take the SAT (Maine and Hawaii require it for all, I think, and Rhode Island has a pretty high percentage taking it) the lower the average score.
I agree with many of the opinions here on education, but using SAT scores across states is a bad way to prove anything.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
12 years ago

David beat me to it. I was just about to post this link http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/cbs-08-Page-3-Table-3.pdf
which shows SAT participation rates by state. In the midwestern states less than 10% of the kids (usually the cream of the crop) are also taking the SAT. RI is 66%, Maine is 87%.
I think it’s for this reason that, at the top of the page, there is this disclaimer: “The College Board strongly discourages the comparison or ranking of states on the basis of SAT scores alone.”
I’d want to look further, but you might still be able to get away with some sorts of comparisons.

JackD
JackD
12 years ago

since we’re manipulating and massaging numbers, try these figures on for size. If 66% of RI students take the SAT’s and you compare those scores against similar percentage population states (i.e. the states within 5 percentage points above and below RI of students who take the exams) the list looks like this:
PA 71% 1468
DE 70% 1436
GA 70% 1453
MD 69% 1478
VA 68% 1514
RI 66% 1449
VT 64% 1551
NC 63% 1481
IN 62% 1474
SC 61% 1451
Sort those numbers and you’ll find that RI is second only to DE at the bottom of the list of lowest scores in that percentage bracket.
Another interesting thing is that in the same population percentage numbers the difference between the top state VT and RI at the almost bottom of the list, the difference in scores is 102 points.
although this is by no means a scientific comparison, at least it uses similar population of test taker numbers to reveal the near same conclusion… RI public schools are not preparing their students adequately.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the union teachers worked as hard at educating the children as they did working on their contracts?
Way to go NEARI!

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
12 years ago

JackD, That’s probably a better comparison than the 50 state comparison, but I’m not sure how much better. You’re trying to make the SAT scores prove a point about RI unions. I think you’re a long, long way from being able to do that with these numbers. Let’s take your VT-RI comparison. VT ranks 2nd (best) in the nation on the percent of children in poverty, with 8.9%. RI ranks 26th, with 15.7%. http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/ahr2007/childpoverty.html Does this have an effect on SAT scores? You bet it does. How much of an effect? Perhaps somebody knows, but I don’t and I don’t imagine you do either. Second, are the test-takers a random sample of students in each state? If one state makes an effort to get more low income students to take the SAT, it’s going to drop the average score. Again, neither of us knows whether the samples in each state are biased one way or the other. So, some of the difference (we don’t know how much)is surely attributable to differences in the student population. If the rest is attributable to the education system, what factors matter? What’s the curriculum look like in each state? (note that teachers’ unions don’t generally decide curriculum), What does spending look like? (VT has a funding formula like the other 49 states; we do not). Please do not take me to be an apologist for the current state of education in RI or for NEARI, PTU or AFT. I think that there’s a lot that needs changing. But with so many questions about what these data really mean, taking them as conclusive proof of the evil effects of unions is not justified. Moreover, trying to use the data to prove a predetermined argument really makes it harder to identify both the problems we face… Read more »

JackD
JackD
12 years ago

I do suppose my “way to go NAERI” comment could have been better placed but please don’t think that I blame those numbers totally on the NAERI. My goal was to simply try to compare apples to apples (i.e. percentages to percentages).
You do make a point though that as with any statistic, one can defuse any number based statistic by whittling it away with this factor and that factor in which case, no statistic will every really mean anything to work toward a resolution.
the fact remains, rich, poor, black, white, RI is still at the bottom of the list and that’s a shame.
Do I blame the union? no, not totally but if I had to lay a personal opinion, based on experiences, I would have to put them near the top of the list of root causes.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
12 years ago

JackD says, “You do make a point though that as with any statistic, one can defuse any number based statistic by whittling it away with this factor and that factor in which case, no statistic will every really mean anything to work toward a resolution”
That wasn’t quite my point, and I would not go so far as that. I believe that statistics can often be very useful in identifying problems and solutions. I just think you need to be careful with them.
In the end, statistical arguments are like any other type of argument. And sometimes the numbers tell a story that can’t be “defused”.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Mike, Number one, Hawaii schools are great! Public, private and religious schools are producing some great graduates that are accepted in a lot of colleges and universities. Parents and local communities support the school system and teachers here in Hawaii. Hawaii is a multi-language state where two languages are officially spoken and written (Hawaiian and English). Hawaii physically is over 1,600 miles long comprised of over 130 islands with one school district. Each year Hawaii looses over 1,500 school teachers due to retirement, failure to certify or due to financial limitations. Hawaii state population is the most ethnically diverse in the nation at 96% diversity with over 100 languages spoken in the households and no real ethnic neighborhoods. Unless you live and work here and understand the culture of Hawaii and way things are done here, I would not try to impose East Coast or New England mainland culture and values on Hawaii. As for Hawaii taxes, Mike Hawaii taxes are far lower than Rhode Island taxes. What don’t you understand about 7% RI tax verses 4% HI tax? According to the July 2008 National Business Travelers Association report “Lodging, Rental Car and Meal Taxes on Travelers in the Top 50 U.S. Cities” Honolulu, HI traveler taxes were the lowest in the nation lodging, rental car and meals at $21.45 per day where Providence, RI taxes for same lodging, rental car and meals was $30.00 per day a full $8.55 more. http://www.nbta.org/NR/rdonlyres/3103B645-EB23-4DDB-AC9B-7A169C6710EF/0/TravelTaxReportJuly2008Final.pdf Mike in all fairness, I wouldn’t continue to try and sell people on false information about Hawaii taxes with statements such as; “With the highest sales tax in America-they tax your food, they tax your shoes, they even tax your underwear!” Like I said; “What don’t you understand about 7% RI tax verses 4% HI tax and Providence,… Read more »

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Give it up Ken. a 45 sales tax on every good (including food and clothing) and service is worse than RI’s admittedly scummy 7% limited sales tax.
To quote the Tax Foundation on Hawaii:
“State and local governments combined collected approximately $2,284 per person in general sales taxes in 2005, which is the highest in the nation”.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/24.html

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

That should read 4%, not 45.
Missed the shift key.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Mike,
Why not quote the full Tax Foundation sentence:
“Hawaii Levies Sales Tax Below National Median, but Sales Tax Collections are Among Nation’s Highest
Hawaii levies a 4% general sales or use tax on consumers, which is below the national median of 5.4%. State and local governments combined collected approximately $2,284 per person in general sales taxes in 2005, which is the highest in the nation.”
Now let me repeat one more time for you so you might understand why the collection number per person in Hawaii is so high.
Island of Oahu is still receiving approximately 75,000 visitors a day. This is down from the average of 85,000 visitors a day due to the current economic conditions.
85,000 visitors a day in 2005 times 4% on all their purchases skew the Tax Foundation numbers.
Hawaii does not have a sales tax.
The Hawaii 4% General Excise Tax is levied on the gross sale of the business and not the consumer. It is up to the business to recoup the general excise tax from the consumer at the time of sale. If the general excise tax is not paid the State of HI can take legal action against the business only.
Rhode Island has a 7% sales tax and it is levied on the consumer. If the consumer does not pay the tax the State of RI can take legal action against the individual consumer. State of RI also requires residents to pay sales tax on all out-of-state purchases reported on RI state income tax forms. If the resident does not report out of state purchases the State of RI can take legal action against the individual to recoup lost tax revenues.

Monique
12 years ago

“That’s probably a better comparison than the 50 state comparison, but I’m not sure how much better.”
“Let’s take your VT-RI comparison. VT ranks 2nd (best) in the nation on the percent of children in poverty, with 8.9%. RI ranks 26th, with 15.7%.”
Actually, Tom S, looking at the cluster of states cited by JackD certainly strikes me as one valid way to evaluate the performance of Rhode Island’s schools.
But your second quote above raises a bigger point:
Why are we as a state spending so much money [RI teachers’ pay is in the top fifth in the country and our property taxes, of which on average 75% goes to school budgets, are the highest] on education if the barriers to the task are not related to salaries or the size of school budgets?

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

After looking at Justin’s posting of the States SAT scores and his ranking by the scores I decided to read the CollegeBoard SAT “2008 College-Bound Senior Total Group Profile Report” which was linked to by Justin.
At the very start of the report and each state report under the heading “Using This Report” is the following statement:
“not all students in a high school, school district, or state take the SAT Reasoning Test. Since the population of test-takers is self-selected, using aggregate SAT Reasoning
Test scores to compare or evaluate teachers, schools, districts, states, or other educational units is not valid, and the College Board strongly discourages such uses.”
In other words the College Board discourages ranking state by SAT scores which make Justin’s ranking much to do about nothing.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
12 years ago

Monique,
You can take the scores that JackD cites as a valid comparison if you like, but only by ignoring everything I said about them. Obviously, therefore, I disagree.
(I’m not saying they’re NOT a valid comparison, but I am saying you need to do more research before you should be willing to say they ARE).
With regard to your second point (and I think we’ve had this discussion before) comparing teacher salaries across states without controlling for cost of living is also very problematic.
Also, I do not agree that the percentage of children in poverty should not be related to cost-per-child expenses. Therefore, the barriers ARE related to the size of school budgets. I am no fan of the education establishment, but I think every serious education researcher would agree that it costs more to bring poor kids to level “x” than it costs to bring rich kids to the same level.

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