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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Good Wisconsin School News: What Page?

by folkbum

Update: Page A1. Good for them.

I thought about staying up until morning to learn the answer for myself. Instead I'll just let it hang in the air overnight. But some good Wisconsin education news hit the "NewsWatch" today:
Children in Wisconsin have the eighth best chance in the U.S. of succeeding in life, at least based on a scoring system created for a national report on the state of education released today.

In a separate kindergarten through 12th grade "achievement index" in the report, Wisconsin rated 10th in the nation.

Both results were included in the annual "Quality Counts" report from Education Week, a weekly publication widely read among educators, released on Wednesday. [. . .] The "chance of success" index was based on a comparative analysis of 13 factors affecting the lives of children in each state, including family income, educational attainment of parents, the percent of children in pre-school programs, the percent of parents who are fluent in English and the percent of adults who hold steady jobs.

Wisconsin scored above the national average in 10 of the 13 categories, including parent income and education and how children scored in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math. It scored below the national average in only one category - percent of three- and four-year-olds in preschool programs.
Again, my standard disclaimer: Just because we do well on some measures, we shouldn't rest on our laurels and goof off for the rest of the school year.

However, this is not a post about achievement, or what the ramifications of that or any one measure of it might mean. Instead, this is a post about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's reporting.

I was reminded this week (in a post by Jo Egelhoff) about a Fordham Foundation study from last August, a study that gave Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards a grade of D-. The story about it was given a prominent page-one placement. The same is true of other stories this year that showed Wisconsin and our Department of Public Instruction in a bad light. However, as I noted in response to one of those, good news about Wisconsin's schools misses page 1A and lands, instead, on page 8B.

And as both I and others noted about the Fordham study itself, it doesn't square with reality, which seems like the kind of thing that should either be noted in a front-page story, or should keep a story off the front page altogether.

Hence, the question of my title. Here's good news; will it be 1A, or 8B?

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