Is Our Kids Learning Better Now?

Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released the PSSA results (the state standardized tests), and celebrated the results.  Of course, the Rendell administration wants to take credit for the improvement, claiming increased education spending and citing the flawed costing out study (rather than expanded school choice) to explain the improvement.   

While the statewide results are encouraging (assuming the test hasn’t been changed), there is one really big problem–the PSSA is a very low standard of achievement.  In 2007, 82% more Pennsylvania students scored proficient on the PSSA than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. For instance, the PSSA found that 75% of 8th graders were proficient in reading, and 68% in math.  But on the NAEP, only 36% and 38% reached proficiency, respectively.

This is not to imply there has been no improvement, but that Pennsylvania has a long way to go before we should celebrate the performance of our public schools.