The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress scores are now out for eighth grade Science, and the cutting edge state of California, home of Silicon Valley and Cal Tech but also of millions of illegal aliens, ranks second worst out of the 44 states measured, ahead of only Mississippi. In California, only 18% of eighth graders scored at the Proficient or Advanced levels, versus 27% nationwide.
Hawaii, was third worst, and then came Alabama, New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, and Texas.
The highest scoring state was North Dakota (with 43% scoring Proficient or Advanced), followed by Montana, Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
As you may have noticed from eyeballing the data, the highest-scoring states don't have much in common except they tend to be quite ... well, northern (if you get my drift). In his obituary for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, George Will coyly wrote:
"The Senate's Sisyphus, Moynihan was forever pushing uphill a boulder of inconvenient data. 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. The barb in his jest was this: High cognitive outputs correlate not with high per-pupil expenditures but with a high percentage of two-parent families. For that, there was the rough geographical correlation that caused Moynihan to suggest that states trying to improve their students' test scores should move closer to Canada."
Sure, Dan and George, whatever you say! It must be playing hockey that makes you monogamous and thus smart.
The NAEP also reports the scores broken down by ethnicity. California's non-Hispanic whites don't do terribly well either, coming in 8th worst out of 44 states. The bottom of the white barrel is West Virginia, followed by Nevada, Mississippi, Hawaii, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and California.
The top scoring whites are found in Massachusetts, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The lowest-scoring Hispanics are in Rhode Island (Cape Verdeans? Brazilians?), California, Nevada, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Washington, New Mexico, Utah, South Carolina, Illinois, and Texas. In general, the more Hispanics in a state, the worse they do, although Texas did fairly well.
The top Hispanics are found in Missouri, Wyoming, Ohio, Virginia, Arkansas, and Delaware. In other words, Hispanics score best when there aren't many other Hispanics around.
The lowest scoring blacks are in Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada, Alabama, and Florida.
The highest scoring blacks are in Washington state, Delaware, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Colorado.
Nationwide, whites outscore blacks by 37 points, Hispanics by 32, and Asians by 5.
Similarly, in the 2003 NAEP, in 8th grade Math, California came in 8th worst among the states; and in 8th grade Reading, it came in second worst.
Why does the U.S. Senate and the President want to push the rest of America further down the path being pioneered by California?