I know nothing about the Alabama Policy Institute. Don’t know what purpose they supposedly serve, how they pay their bills, etc. But with a name such as they have, one would think they should be all about research and policy statements and educating the public.
However, all I ever see are articles in some media outlet, such as this one, that is clearly about pushing an agenda, instead of laying all the facts on the table.
In this case they try to make the case that there is precious little relationship between resources spent on education and student performance. To do this, they talk about how the state of Alabama ranks in comparison to other states on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores.
For instance, the article states, “Since 2000, rankings in math for fourth and eight grade students fell from 35th and 32nd place, respectively, to 51st and 50th place in 2015.”
The implication clearly is that our students are doing worse and whatever money we are spending on education is being wasted. The only problem, they are talking about state rankings–not the actual scores of students.
So let’s look at what is meaningful, how students score on NAEP.
Fourth-grade math scores in 2000 for Alabama were 217. In 2015, they were 231–an increase of 14 points. That was exactly what was done nationally, an increase of 14 points. Eighth-graders increased five points. The national increase was nine points.
In reading, fourth grade scores jumped ten points from 2002 to 2015 (the national increase was four points) and eighth grade scores rose six points (the national average of one point). So in four measures, we beat the national average in two and tied it in one.
The state of Massachusetts is often considered to have the top school system in the nation. Alabama showed a bigger gain in math scores for both fourth and eighth grade in this time period than they did.
Yet the folks at Alabama Policy Institute discard the truth and want us to believe our students are going backwards–not forward.
The article above says, “Alabama’s rankings on the NAEP in math and reading have largely collapsed.” The only thing I see collapsing is the credibility of the organization when they put out such as this.